It was a late St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Toronto when the Maple Leafs took on the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night – donning their throwback Toronto St. Pats jerseys. Luck, though, wasn’t on their side as the Blackhawks escaped with a 2-1 overtime win.
While the Leafs lost the game – another game in which they led – they did pick up a big point to move one up on the Islanders and maintain control of the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
That being said, it was a goalie battle in Toronto on Saturday with the Leafs leading the way in the face-off dot and in the physical play. But Frederik Andersen and Corey Crawford combined for 62 saves between the two of them and it wasn’t due to a lack of trying by the offensive players either.
The first period was everything hockey fans could’ve expected with these two exciting teams playing each other. Back and forth play defined the period with both goaltenders making a number of saves – Frederik Andersen stopping all 13 shots he faced in the frame.
But with the high-speed offence of both of these clubs, it was 20 minutes filled with offensive chances. The period also lacked penalties – a good thing for both teams.
While Andersen stopped all the shots that he faced in the period, Crawford wasn’t as fortunate. The Blackhawks goalie saw just eight shots in the first period and it was midway through the frame when one Leafs forward got the monkey of his back – recording his first point in seven games.
Auston Matthews dropped the puck off for William Nylander as he entered the zone. Nylander fired the puck in the direction of the Hawks net as Matthews drove to the net and the Leafs star rookie tipped the puck past Crawford to give the Leafs a 1-0 lead.
St.Pats goal by Matthews 1-0 pic.twitter.com/Ae14hSvZ8T
— SiriusXM NHL Network Radio (@SiriusXMNHL) March 18, 2017
The Leafs held onto the lead through the first, but were out shot by the Blackhawks 13-8.
The second was a lot like the first. Both teams had a number of chances with the Blackhawks posting another 12 shots in the frame. The Leafs, still only managed seven shots on Crawford and it showed.
Midway through this period, it was the Blackhawks that took advantage of their opportunity this time. Newly signed college free agent John Hayden got a drop pass from captain Jonathan Toews who backhanded the puck across the offensive zone. Hayden kicked the puck up to his stick and fired a shot over the glove of Andersen, tying the game at one.
— Cristiano Simonetta (@CMS_74_) March 19, 2017
About three minutes later, the Leafs were given a power play opportunity when Johnny Oduya was sent off for hooking Hyman. But the top-ranked power play in the NHL couldn’t take advantage. The period ended with both clubs having scored one goal each, with Crawford making a huge save on Matthews to close out the frame.
The final frame opened with Crawford making another big save off of Matthews to keep the game tied early. That was followed up with Andersen making a number of saves off of Toews and Hayden with the Leafs unable to clear their defensive zone. Still, the game remained tied at ones.
Andersen was on top of his game all night long as even with just under eight minutes left – and the Leafs scrambling again – he was able to stop a chance by Marcus Kruger in close and cover up a dangerous rebound in his crease.
Nikita Zaitsev did his best to help the Leafs’ cause as the Blackhawks broke into the zone with just over four minutes left in the game. With two Chicago forwards coming in on the Leafs defenceman – and Gardiner caught behind the play – Zaitsev went down to take away the pass then fell on the puck to stop play. A small skirmish ensued, but nothing came of it.
The Leafs opened the overtime period with a two-on-one. Kadri’s pass was in the feet of Rielly. The Blackhawks turned that back and got a two-on-one of their own, but Kane’s shot was stopped by the right shoulder of Andersen.
Andersen made another big save kicking out his pad at the last second and the rebound came out to James van Riemsdyk. With the Hawks changing, JVR was able to get a breakaway. Crawford came up with a big save of his own on that chance.
After the Leafs controlled play in the Chicago zone for about 35 seconds, the Blackhawks broke back out on another two-on-one and this time Hartman was able to fire one through the wickets of Andersen to get the extra point for his team.
— Cristiano Simonetta (@CMS_74_) March 19, 2017
TOR – Auston Matthews (32) assisted by William Nylander and Zach Hyman
CHI – John Hayden (1) assisted by Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook
CHI – Ryan Hartman (16) assisted by Artemi Panarin
THW Three Stars
First: Ryan Hartman (1 goal, 6 shots)
Second: Frederik Andersen (37 saves)
Third: John Hayden (1st career NHL goal)
Boston Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs
Air Canada Centre – 7:30 p.m. EST – Monday, March 20
Broadcast channels: TVAS, TSN4 and NESN
2016-17 Season Series: Maple Leafs lead series 2-1-0
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.