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Maple Leafs escape with 5-4 win vs. Blackhawks




The Toronto Maple Leafs downed the Chicago Blackhawks by a 5-4 score Saturday. The Maple Leafs had to scramble for the victory after giving up a 4-1 lead.

At 18:41 of the third period of a tie game, a Morgan Rielly dump-in bounced out in front of the net with Chicago goaltender Kevin Lankinen behind the net. Former Blackhawk David Kampf pounced on the puck and put it into the net for his fourth goal of the season.

The Goals

Jonathan Toews gave Chicago an early lead, scoring his second goal of the season at 1:53 of the first period. Toews held the puck on a 2-on-1 rush and fired a wrist shot that beat Petr Mrazek to the stick side.

Chicago’s lead did not last long as Maple Leafs captain John Tavares buried a power play goal at 2:54 of the first period. A wrist shot from the left faceoff circle went through the pads of Blackhawks goalie Kevin Lankinen. It was Tavares’ 13th goal of the season.

At 9:14 of the first period, William Nylander carried the puck into the Blackhawks zone and chipped it into the corner. John Tavares retrieved the puck and immediately found Nylander in tight for his13th goal.

Another Maple Leafs power play resulted in Toronto’s second power play goal. Auston Matthews converted a loose puck in the slot after Ondrej Kase tried to pass a rebound across the crease to Tavares. Matthews has 18 goals on the season, and this is the fifth straight game in which the Maple Leafs have scored multiple power play goals.

A strong fourth line shift led to a goal by Pierre Engvall, who rounded the net and then beat Lankinen on the short side with a wrist shot at 3:25 of the second period. Rookie winger Alex Steeves earned his first NHL point on the play with an assist, but he also had a quality screen in front of Lankinen on the play. It was Engvall’s fourth goal of the season.

The Comeback

Chicago got a goal from defenceman Connor Murphy. With Dominik Kubalik screening in front, Murphy’s wrist shot from the right faceoff circle beat Mrazek on the glove side. It was Murphy’s second goal of the season at 16:31 of the second period.

An early third period goal from the Blackhawks made the game much tighter. Kubalik too a pass from Philipp Kurashev and beat Mrazek high on the blocker side at 1:47 of the third period.

Mrazek thwarted a Patrick Kane breakaway at 5:02 of the third period to preserve Toronto’s 4-3 lead. But the Blackhawks continued to put on the pressure.

Jake McCabe’s wrist shot from the blueline tied the game at 10:42 of the third period. There was traffic in front but it was still not a great goal to surrender a goal from that distance. It was McCabe’s second goal of the season.

The Numbers

Maple Leafs right winger William Nylander led the way with a goal and two assists. Auston Matthews and John Tavares both contributed a goal and an assist.

Maple Leafs goaltender Petr Mrazek stopped 31 of 35 shots in his first start in six weeks.

Defencemen Jake McCabe and Connor Murphy both had a goal and an assist for the Blackhawks.

Kevin Lankinen had 21 saves on 26 shots in the Blackhawks net.

Toronto improves to 19-8-2 and will embark on a road trip to Western Canada, starting in Edmonton Tuesday.

Quotes and takeaways coming soon.

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