Blackhawks 5, Maple Leafs 3 — Three Stars, Key Takeaways
Four nights ago in Toronto, the Maple Leafs were the biggest favorite in recorded NHL gambling history against the Blackhawks. And they handled every bit of the business: they covered the 2.5 spread, the 6.5 total (5-2) and the win, which was -610 before puck drop. One specific veteran on the Blackhawks didn’t have his best night, and heard it from the Canadian media for a couple days. Well… he scored twice in Ottawa… and then…. he came home.
Stars 1, 2 AND 3: Patrick Kane
After listening to and reading the media in Canada talk about how he was washed after a sub-par performance in Toronto, Kaner scored twice in Ottawa. Then he came home — against his buddy Auston Matthews and the same Maple Leafs he struggled against a few days ago — and ripped them for a goal in the first period. And then he tacked on a second one in the second. And a third moments later. And the United Center erupted. This was a vintage Kane performance. He was playing with pace and taking whatever he wanted. And the home crowd was eating it up. He closed the night with an assist to Max Domi for an empty net goal.
- Shoutout to Cole Guttman for scoring his first career NHL goal tonight. And he immediately jumped into the arms of his former Denver teammate, Ian Mitchell. This was awesome — and broke up a tied game. If not for Kane’s incredible night, he would have been a star.
- Jaxson Stauber was terrific. I really like this kid’s game. He’s calm between the pipes and seems to see the puck really well. He stopped 15 of 17 in the first two periods and the two goals for the Leafs came on a power play and one that popped up in front of the crease. Oh, and he was credited with an assist on Domi’s empty net goal. If this night wasn’t completely all about Kane’s performance, he would have been one of my three stars.
- The United Center crowd was big and loud and made this feel like they were cheering for a big-time game between two relevant teams in a playoff race. For a 5 PM local start on a Sunday evening against a team that wiped the floor with the Blackhawks less than one week ago, it was pretty impressive.
- I thought Mitchell had another solid game. I don’t know how many veteran defenseman are going to get traded but I hope if a couple leave he gets to run the rest of the season every night in the lineup because the more often he plays the more confident he is and that’s a really good thing.
- Guttman and Tyler Johnson accounted for four of the Blackhawks’ eight goals in the first period. Their line was really good early. Active sticks and feet are a good thing.
- Take this for whatever it’s worth, but Sam Lafferty had four more minutes of ice time than Domi through two periods of play — in fact, Lafferty led all Chicago forwards. He was playing a really good game but you don’t see a third or fourth line center lead the team in ice time very often.
- It was first responders night at the United Center. This moment before the game was absolutely incredible.