Blackhawks Hang On For Dear Life, Beat Leafs In Toronto

In front of a national television audience, the Blackhawks came out and hammered the Maple Leafs in the opening 20 minutes.

Three minutes into the game Brandon Saad set up Duncan Keith and the Hawks were up 1-0.

Over the nearly ten minutes following the Keith goal both sides had good chances but neither team converted. Chicago got hot, however, and Toronto had no answer.

Speaking of hot, Brendan Perlini followed his first career hat trick with a first period goal. His 12th of the year came at 12:55 into the first off assists from Dylan Strome and Erik Gustafsson.

Corey Crawford was playing well and the Hawks kept the pressure on Frederik Andersen, who was clearly fighting it in the first.

Dominik Kahun was next up for Chicago, extending the lead to three.

Patrick Kane set Kahun up for the pretty goal.

Saad found himself all alone in front of the net 95 seconds later and took a good feed from Dylan Sikura, had time to file his tax returns and then tapped in a nice shot past Andersen to make the score 4-0 in favor of the visiting Blackhawks.

After 20 minutes of hockey the Blackhawks had a 14-9 shot advantage and had completely dominated the Leafs in their barn. Andersen’s night was over after allowing all four Chicago goals.

Garrett Sparks entered the game for Toronto and did well early in the second as the Hawks refused to take their foot off the gas. It took Chicago 12:32 to score again, this time Alex DeBrincat was the finisher.

Strome and Perlini picked up their second assists of the game on DeBrincat’s 38th of the season; Perlini already had three points in less than 33 minutes.

With 93 seconds left in the second period Andreas Johnsson scored his 20th of the year for Toronto to end Crawford’s shutout bid.

After two periods the Blackhawks had a 27-18 shot advantage and had maintained a four-goal lead. Only four Chicago forwards – Jonathan Toews, David Kampf, Chris Kunitz and Marcus Kruger – were without a point after 40 minutes.

Collin Delia entered the game to start the third period for Chicago.

Toronto scored the first goal of the third period when Auston Matthews tapped in a loose puck at 7:57. Chicago was chasing after that and the Leafs got the game’s first power play with 9:38 remaining when Patrick Kane went to the box. The Leafs scored on the power play to cut the Blackhawks’ lead to two.

The Leafs pulled their goalie with 3:30 left in regulation still chasing two. Kane chased down and saved icing soon after but Toronto kept pouring it on. After a generously quick whistle stopped play Toews won a faceoff but Keith gave the puck away and John Tavares cut the lead to only one with 91 seconds left.

The 45 seconds that followed the Tavares goal were absolutely insane. Toronto had a few incredible chances and missed, Delia lost his stick for about 20 seconds and eventually a whistle stopped play because the net came off. Delia was getting absolutely blitzed, desperately trying to hang onto the lead.

Toronto got a couple more great looks but Delia somehow held on. Delia faced 30 shots in the third period.

38 thoughts on “Blackhawks Hang On For Dear Life, Beat Leafs In Toronto

  1. How is that not interference on Saader with less then 10 min left in 3rd. Wow.

    What matters is we just outplayed a top 5 team, by a lot. We didnt play in the 3rd, being up 5-1, let up? something?

    Thats two big blow out wins against ARI and TOR. After beating DAL thats 3 playoff teams in a row.

    Having 64 back we have a checking line. What a difference that makes. We didnt do as good when he was out and we didnt have what 2.5 lines.

  2. Delia is not ready for prime time yet, I’m afraid. That was brutal at the end. But great effort in the first 40. Lots to build on lately.

  3. Insane ending. Delia was doing his best flippy floppy fish murray bannerman and was very lucky he was not busted for delay of game.

  4. Just like we got too positive about Delia at the start we need to be patient now-but he seems like he is winging it at times with his positioning-it looks erratic and you don’t have the confidence that you might have with a Crawford or even Ward.

  5. Which guy lives in TOR and wanted to see us win against ARI so the TOR game would be meaningful, Noonan was that you.

    How about that taste of the future of whats to come in the coming yrs.

  6. Definitely a lot more positive than negative takeaways from this one but since all the negative stuff was in the last 15 minutes it kind of took a bit of the shine off the very good first 45 minutes. The last 15 minutes looked a lot like a lot of other games this season so I don’t see anything to be gained by focusing on that. Instead, I’ll focus on the first 45 minutes and be pleased that they played about as well defensively as you want a team to play. All 5 men on the ice were playing defense like you draw it up – backchecking, covering the slot, battling, making accurate crisp passes, and so on. When the Hawks play team defense like that they’re a damn good team because their 5-on-5 offense is good enough to score at a pretty good clip.

    I know the jury is still out on whether Perlini is the real deal or not, but just between you and me – I snuck into the jury room and can tell you the verdict is in – the Perlini we’ve seen the last 5-6 games is the Perlini were going to continue to see. (shhh … don’t tell anyone though, it will be our little secret).

    So, not only I proclaiming Perlini will be a permanent middle-6 winger going forward – I’m also proclaiming Sikura might be pretty good too. In addition to the nice “take a hit to make the play” assist on Saad’s goal, he also had a bunch of other very good plays. It seems he is skating stronger and on his toes versus playing somewhat timid like he was before. I never bought into the idea he was playing scared and shied away from contact but I think there was an element getting used to the NHL game, finding his comfort zone and gaining some confidence. Now hopefully he can score that first on and get the monkey off his back.

    4 points out with 12 to play – are these guys really going to do it? It’s certainly not far fetched any more. I can almost hear Al Michaels in the final moments of a pretty exciting game played in Lake Placid in 1980. I’m starting to believe.

  7. I know it’s too early for any level of certainty, but if – big IF – the top three lines from the past few games (20-19-95, 24-15-88, 12-17-11) continue to play as well as they have the last 4-5 games – then wouldn’t that be good enough to go into the 2019/20 with? Have Caggiula replace Kunitz on the 4th line with Kampf at center and use Highmore or Kubalik os someone that earns a job in training camp as the other winger on the 4th line. That would allow Stan to focus on the d-corps and possibly a goalie capable of playing a heavy load should Crawford not be able to play regularly next season – AND keep enough in the kitty to pay Cat/Strome/Kahun going into 2020/21.

    It’s kinda sexy to think about adding a Panarin or Kapanen or some forward that has better stats and pedigree than a Sikura but that cap space is better spent on the area of greatest need with is d-corps first and goaltending second. Shoring up the defense so less goals are given up puts the Hawks closer to being a Cup contender than adding more offense.

  8. If AZ finishes the year 6-6, the Hawks would need to go 8-3-1 or better to over take them in points (AZ has the ROW tiebreaker as of now.) If AZ goes 8-4 the Hawks have to go 10-1-1 (again assuming ROW tiebreaker doesn’t change.) I’m not sure the Hawks have 10 more wins in them this year…

    I was afraid that the Hawks would go on this kind of run to close the season and not make the playoffs. It is kind of my worst case scenario, no playoffs and a really bad chance at a top 3 pick…

  9. That said, the Hawks looked fantastic to open the game. Again, I couldn’t tell how much of it was Toronto not being ready to start the game or the Hawks dictating play, but they were swarming all over the Leafs. It reminded me how good this team has been the past decade. I actually said, wow, I hope this team (the one smothering the Leafs) makes the playoffs because that would be fun to watch.

    Perlini continues to impress. He seems more relaxed and natural on the ice. Hope to see more of him in the top 6. He seems to have found some chemistry with Strome And DeBrincat, but I suspect that almost anyone would have chemistry with those two, they are so good.

    Sikura really impressed me with his hand to eye coordination on the Saad goal. He was able to knock down a waist high bouncing puck, control it, find Saad and make a perfect pass while absorbing a hit on the boards. That was a big boy play.

    I didn’t get to see the end of the game, so my thoughts are only based on highlights, but I couldn’t tell if the Hawks let up or Toronto remembered how good they are and took it to the Hawks. I imagine Crow leaving the game didn’t help either.

    It’s going to be an entertaining finish to the season no matter what happens…

  10. It’s been great watching the Hawks lately, but I still don’t believe this team can WIN the Cup…and for me, anything less = play for the draft pick (even it doesn’t turn out to be Hughes or Kakko). I’ll admit it – I’m “jaded”. ONE Goal, etc.

    Does anyone here really believe they have a legitimate shot?

  11. The 1st period was perhaps the most dominant the Hawks have been this year. Yes, Andersen was not on top of this game, but the Hawks really had some serious jump and simply owned the Leafs. The 1st and 2nd periods featured some impressive 2 way hockey by the Hawks following up on the recent 4 game run of limiting opponents quality scoring chances. Crow meanwhile was on it.

    So how do you almost blow a 5 goal lead yet still win? Lots of luck at the end during a complete d melt down that saw poor zone clears, giveaways. I really thought they were going to lose as momentum had just flipped hard to the Leafs. Why the hell didn’t Colliton call a time out during that insanity late in the 3rd to just slow Leafs momentum down and let the players focus on the job at hand? What did the Hawks give up in the 3rd, was it 30 plus shots??? Delia got the job done, but it wasn’t pretty at all. Pity that Crow felt sick and could not carry on in the 3rd. Hope he is better for the Habs on Saturday, because Corey tends to play really well in Bell Centre.

    The last 5 minutes of that game was a free for all we don’t see that often. Exciting but nerve wracking stuff. If you missed this game watch the recap or the whole thing.

    When this Hawks team stays disciplined defensively they are tough to play against because the offensive firepower is there.

    Another big two points. I just hope they keep playing well enough to get edged out or sneak in. Will be good for team attitude next year. It doesn’t look like their record will give them a shot at top picks now. It’s a long shot still, but they could still snatch a wild card spot if teams above them falter. Crazy season.

    Let’s Go Hawks!

  12. DD-Legitimate shot this year-no not IMO.
    But the change for me in how I see things has been that this team has less to do to be in the mix than I thought at the start of this year and certainly during the early part of Dec.

    I think they are showing it has less to do with dramatic personnel changes going forward and more to do with work ethic, structure and belief.
    (and a really good goalie)

  13. Amazing they’re just 4 points out of a playoff spot with their two high-priced defensemen playing as if they could give two craps.

  14. There were a few key D zone turnovers (Keith, Seabrook, Murphy) during the insanity at the end but generally I thought the Hawks did a good job of not panicking despite the ridiculous pressure form the Leafs

    Not having CC made a huge difference IMO – the Tavares goal Crow probably stops and the Hawks get an empty netter and it ends 6-3

    Delia battled hard but was hardly the calming influence that CC is in addition to giving up the softish goal to Tavares

    TOR must have had the riot act read to them after 2 periods – that was a crazy last 12 minutes

    The Hawks still need about 20 points in their last 12 games maybe more to make the playoffs – that’s a 10-2 record minimum to close out the season – not very likely but not impossible either

  15. Yeah, not only would AZ need to lose a bunch of games but so would Colorado and Minnesota … so the odds are still stacked against the Hawks getting in but I still think the intensity of this playoff push is not only good experience for the young players but also invaluable for Colliton and Stan to assess those players in the “must win” environment.

    I’m less concerned with getting into the top-10 in the draft than I was a couple weeks ago. Primarily because I think Perlini can be the real deal and is essentially our 2019 1st round draft pick and oh by the way he is ready to play – no waiting a year or two for the draft pick to make the team and then learn how to play in the NHL. We are still trying to make another Cup run in the Toews&Kane window so getting a player who can contribute now by 2020/21 is important. Secondarily, a player available to them between 11-15 is going to be just about the same odds to hit it big as one they could select between 6-10. Therefore I think the experience of the playoff race is worth the slightly lower odds of hitting a home run with the draft pick.

  16. Our ability to quickly break out of the d-zone in the first two periods was very impressive. Almost unrecognizable from the team we have watched all year long. Quick tape to tape passes that consistently put the Leafs on their heels. Thought Saad’s 2-way game looked very strong. It was disappointing to see horrible turnovers at critical times from the experienced vets – made Gus actually look pretty steady. Amazing what a little confidence can do to a player – Perlini looks like he might score every shift. He fits well with Strome and Dcat. If he turns into a solid player that trade will be a monster.

  17. It’s hard to crown Perlini as having officially arrived but I like his game lately. Hawks have the offensive firepower on board, no need to add substantial Cap to get more. Would like to see them focus on the d as well as a couple of defensive minded, responsible, bangers to sprinkle in up front. Adding to the forward depth on the big club while also building some pipeline of Rfd and juniors would be great to see. I’ll give the hawks this, they are fun to watch again.

  18. Had to work late and missed the game. Tab, very funny comment about Saad having time to file his tax returns before scoring.

    ER and Miro, fantastic posts. A little over a week ago, after a game, Perlini was interviewed and said he was playing with stress but is now is more relaxed. You can see that he now plays with confidence. We know about his great speed for his size but are now seeing his quick and accurate shot and good passing. He fights for the puck and disrupts the other team. Am excited about his turnaround. Was the #12 pick – there must have been a reason.

    Give JC credit for allowing the inexperienced players to develop. He is the right coach for this team.

    This was Delia’s first game in a long time and there is going to be some rust.

    What acquisitions during the season: Strome, Perlini, Cagg, and possibly KK. Stan is on a roll. A few good decisions at the draft and summer and the Blackhawks will be a powerhouse sooner than later!

  19. Well… at least this team isn’t boring. Happy we are playing quasi-meaningful games. But no, we’re not even close to contending.

    Loags – Yup. Puljajarvi from the Oilers. Youth, speed, and size. Extend an offer sheet July 1. Guaranteed he will sign it because Edmonton. We just might pluck him at 5 years, 2.5M per year. We’d lose a second round pick, but that’s a solid gamble IMO. He’s still young enough to have trade value if he doesn’t pan out within two years.

    As far as cap space this offseason, I’d be just as interested in acquiring defensive forwards and PKers as FA defensemen. Cheaper, younger, and the D is hopefully coming from the farm.

  20. @ER, I think you are right, at this point the draft pick position is not that big of a deal. I think I fixated on it for so long because the Hawks looked like they may be heading down that path (top 5 pick) a few months ago and I never recalibrated after their resurgence. The idea of getting a player like Hughes or Kakko to play with Kane and Toews still in their primes seemed too good to pass up.

    I need to let it go I guess and just enjoy the ride, lol.

  21. Travis: good call. I can see Bowman all over that especially since Puljarvi wants out of Edm.

    I dont think offer sheet tho. Just a trade between the two parties.

  22. Miro, if the Hawks don’t make the playoffs they have a shot at Hughes/Kakko – not good odds, but there’s a chance. I think Carolina had the 10th or 11th draft position last year and ended up 2nd in the lottery – so keep the dream alive. :)

  23. I know he had hip surgery. That’s good news, not bad news. Explains why he’s been underperforming and lowers his cost. Exactly the kind of acquisition we should be looking for.

  24. Miro, if were the 8 seed which means we beat MIN, ARI and COL I think ARI does worse then 6-6. They have been winning and might take a losing streak/stretch of like 2-4 and then go 3-3, thats 5-7 and we win our games, were in.

    I do think that if theres 5 or so games left and were not in/clinched by other, then we could lose last 4 or 5 games kind of thing.

    Bottom line is because were a mid tier team without a full roster, were just to good to get that top 6 skill pick without getting lucky from other teams. Still could win a lot of games like we have then lose last 4 or 5 ish games and get that 7th pick again.

    You cannot think we have to 8-3 or 10-1 to do it because thats pressure. Think ARI loses some games in next 6 then we out win them, were in. Otherwise your screwed. Really its fine no matter what happens.

    I would rather have top 6 skill pick then 15th pick but this team, playing short handed, is borderline playoffs with a 3-16 stretch that was not this yrs roster. Since we got ‘this’ yrs team, when we made the roster adjustments and Dals and Murf were ready healthy wise, were closer to a top 10 team then bottom 10 team. That is what were seeing since around game 30.

    tank ufas roster
    6-2-2 and 3-16 is -9 games under .500

    roster adjustments/players healthy to play
    7-2-3 (not counting outdoor, not normal conditions-we outplayed them too)
    and
    lose 5/half were ties (0-3-2)
    and
    streaking 7 in a row
    and
    4-6
    and
    win 4

    Not saying were streaky, just normal ups and downs. Point is since roster adjustments, which is the start of ‘this’ yrs team we are 22-11-5 (and its got nothing do with playing bad teams, more then half of those 22 wins are against top 10 teams, not midtier or bottom 10).

  25. ER, so yea since approx game 30/the roster adjustments we are a 22-11-5 kind of team and this is what to expect starting in the fall. Plus were adding some good players on top of that.

  26. Am sorry about the insults, which should not be part of any discussion. Regarding offer sheets, they are a very rare occurrence because:

    1. Drives up the market for comparable players. It’s hard enough for GMs to manage the cap.
    2. Creates bad relations among organizations.

    Oddly, when San Jose offer sheeted Hjalmarsson, it actually helped the Blackhawks. When they matched the offer, it left them with not enough cap space to re-sign Niemi and let him walk. San Jose then signed Niemi. Who would you rather have had in net all those years: Niemi or Crawford? Thank you, Doug Wilson.

  27. You really cant look at it like we Have to 8-3, 10-1-1, or 10-2 to get in playoffs. Too little too late at game 70. Our guys have only had 40 games to get within a couple games. If these guy had 82 games, we would be better then 10 games over .500 and would be ahead of DAL and VEG for conference 5th seed.

    The way to think is, those teams need to go 5-7 or something and then we have a chance to win enough games. Thinking that we have to go 10-1 kind thought is the wrong kind of pressure.

    I think those teams need to go 5-7 or something. No matter what at the start of 20 season were a 22-11-5 (44-22-10) kind of team and thats without adding anyone yet that we ll add in draft/summer/first 25 games. Essentially were the starting 5th seed in the fall game 1 and ours to win to keep.

  28. Lots of good posts. This is the team we have this yr. Only going to get better with draft summer fall adds/trades and young wave players coming eventually.

    How about watching these guys play hockey when we have Way moar depth.

  29. So we shouldn’t utilize offer sheets and remain on friendly terms with teams we are supposed to be competing against? Sounds like a very poor strategy to win Cups.

    Jesse P is a risk. No argument. Maybe his hockey sense blows. Also maybe Edmonton blows at developing young players. It’s a gamble. But it’s a high reward low risk gamble. The kind of gamble we should be taking, even if the Oilers or anyone else get pissed at us.

  30. Travis, yea I do not think were throwing pickles against the glass and seeing which one/s sticks the most, if any. Guys in different systems, players, lines, atmospheres/rather live in Chicago or Ohio, these things can be. Getting good players that havnt been playing or havnt yet played as good as they really are, players that stil have how ever much upside, could turn out to be good players.

    We still can add a mid tire caphit player as ufas in summers/trade and need to. Get these players from teams like we did from ARI EDM in addition.

  31. Entwistle with 2 goals and 2 assists in the 5-2 win for Guelph tonight. Reese Johnson with a hat trick through 2 periods for Red Deer with Hagel picking up an assist on one of the goals. Boqvist got an assist in London’t loss tonight so he reaches 60 points for the season with one regular season game to play.

  32. Know not every guy is going to make it. Wonder how far away these FW prospects are from playing in CHI.

    What do you guys think, in order of when each guy could be NHL ready (not established just ready to play some games) of the FW prospects.

    first 40 games/20 season- who?
    2nd 40 games/20 season- who? Kurachev Barratt
    first 40 games/21 season- who?
    2nd 40 games/21 season- who?

  33. Just wild guesses but this would be the earliest we will see them play their first NHL game. It might be just a cup of coffee or in-season injury call up.

    1. Boqvist – 2020/21
    2. Beaudin – 2020/21
    3. Mitchell – 2019/20
    4. Kurashev – 2020/21
    5. Entwistle – 2019/20
    6. Hagel – 2020/21
    7. Kubalik – 2018/19 (if they sign him after his Swiss League season ends)
    8. Barratt – 2020/21

  34. I think Beaudin will get a serious look next year, and then stick or go back to junior.
    I think he will be the surprise of the 4, in the long run.
    Agree with Boqvist.
    Eventually Beaudin and Boqvist on the power play may make Gus a luxury.

    Entwistle may be the final ‘steal’ from the Coyotes and play an important top 9 role-perhaps top 6.

  35. So Entwistle Mitchell and maybe Beaudin getting up 40 games like Buckaroo this yr. for season 20. Then first full 82 game season for season 21.

    Everybody else season 21. Thats a lot for season 21.

  36. Of the 8 prospects I listed I didn’t mean that all would have significant roles on the team in the year I listed – I meant the would get in an NHL game – maybe only a 1 or 2 game cup of coffee, or in some cases longer. That’s all.

  37. I know, I was interested in that and when they could start. Some might be ready like Buckaroo was this yr for 40 games or ready the next 40 game section for their first 40 games.

    Really just interested in when they could be ready to see them in CHI.

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