National Hockey League roundup: Blackhawks build big lead, hold off Leafs

Jose Verdugo
Marcha 17, 2019

Jakub Voracek (19th) returned from a two-game National Hockey League suspension to open the scoring on a scorcher right off a faceoff win by Nolan Patrick.

Brandon Saad had a goal and an assist, and Duncan Keith, Dominik Kahun and Alex DeBrincat also scored as Chicago jumped out to a 5-0 lead before holding on. Dylan Strome added two assists for the Blackhawks, who have won four straight and crept within four points of the Arizona Coyotes for the second wild card in the Western Conference.

"We can be really happy with the first and second and be not happy with the third [period]", Chicago coach Jeremy Colliton said.

Goaltender Corey Crawford had a strong but illness-shortened night, stopping 17-of-18 shots in the first two periods. Colin Delia had 26 saves during the onslaught in the third.

"Right now, we just know that with the meaning of these points and these games, every game is going to be tough", Toews said.

Zajac showed some deft hands in front as he tied the score 2-2 with 19 seconds left in the first period.

Before their current win streak, the Blackhawks had lost four of five. "But until I see you're at the top of your game that's not what we're doing".

If you made a decision to stop watching Wednesday's Blackhawks-Maple Leafs game after two periods, you happened to miss one of the craziest finishes to a game this season.

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Andersen was replaced by Sparks to start the second, marking the first time in his career he's been pulled in consecutive games.

The Hawks made it 5-0 with 7 1/2 minutes remaining in the middle period when DeBrincat roofed a shot past Sparks for his 38th.

Johnsson scored his 20th this season on a tip-in of Rielly's shot from the left point at 18:27 of the second.

Playing the 200th game of his career, Matthews brought the Leafs a little closer at 7:57 of the third when he banked in his 32nd.

"We didn't put ourselves in a very good position", Rielly said.

"I tried that early if you remember, I tried to put the line back together, they weren't ready to go", said Babcock after practice in Vegas on February 13.

NOTES: After being held out of the lineup Monday for precautionary reasons because of an illness, Toronto announced Kasperi Kapanen has been diagnosed with a concussion. The Leafs were also minus Zach Hyman (flu), and defencemen Jake Gardiner (back) and Travis Dermott (shoulder). The Blackhawks have the highest over record in the league at 46-19-5, while Toronto is 11th at 35-32-3. However, officials on the ice in Toronto ruled that Delia knocked the net off accidentally, denying the Leafs of a clean opportunity at a game-tying goal. Nylander's assist on Johnsson's goal was the 100th of his career.

Heading into Toronto on Friday on the heels of a convincing home regulation loss to Washington the previous night, the Philadelphia Flyers faced a virtual must-win situation against the Maple Leafs.

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