Blackhawks Erase 3-Goal Deficit, Still Come Up Short In Toronto

After shutting out the Habs in Montreal, the Blackhawks moved on to Toronto and a completely different challenge. The Leafs are the polar opposite of the Canadiens: they’re likely to be among the top seeds in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and their offense is scary.

Chicago opted to go with Kevin Lankinen in net and inserted Dylan Strome back into the lineup in place of a sick Henrik Borgstrom.

Toronto went with Petr Mrazek in net. This would be only his third game of the season and first since Oct. 30. In theory, the Blackhawks should have a few opportunities against an untested netminder.

So when Jonathan Toews sniped home his second goal in as many games, things felt pretty good for the visitors.

Connor Murphy and Reese Johnson picked up the assists.

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, when the dust settled at the end of the first period the scoreboard showed a 3-1 score in favor of the Maple Leafs. After picking up an assist on Toews’ goal, Johnson went to the box and John Tavares beat Lankinen to tie the game. Tavares then set up William Nylander almost seven minutes later to give the Leafs the lead.

And then Riley Stillman made us wonder if he bet the over.

He was called for a questionable penalty behind the net and served his two minutes. At the conclusion of that penalty, he left the box, skated to the other side of the ice and tripped Alexander Kerfoot. The Blackhawks couldn’t keep the high-powered Leafs power play off the board for almost four straight minutes. Auston Matthews scored Toronto’s second PPG of the period to make the score 3-1.

The Hawks actually out-shot the Leafs 12-11 in the first period but the defensive effort at times left a lot to be desired and their willingness to go to the box was unfortunate. Overall, the first period felt like the Hawks were just getting out-classed by a legit team.

When Toronto made the score 4-1 on a weak goal from Pierre Engvall at 3:25 into the second, it felt like this game was going to get away from them.

However, the 15 minutes that followed the Engvall goal were dominated by the Blackhawks. After a power play limped to a close, Brandon Hagel won the puck and got it to Murphy who unloaded a shot that found the back of the net.

Chicago cut the lead to 4-2.

The Blackhawks didn’t score again in the second, largely because Mrazek was playing a terrific game. He stoned a few great looks for the Blackhawks to keep the lead at two. However, the Hawks out-shot the Leafs 14-3 in the period.

Early in the third period, Jake Muzzin hit Johnson high and sent him flying. Johnson went to the bench and, eventually, the room. After the big hit, however, the Hawks were able to get a change and attack. Philipp Kurashev made a nice play to keep the puck and found Dominik Kubalik who cut the lead to just one.

Kubalik’s fifth of the year came less than two minutes into the third period. All three of the Hawks’ goals came at 5-on-5, making this the first game since Nov. 1 that the Blackhawks had done that and just the fourth time all season they’ve scored three at even, full strength.

Toronto turned their offense back on but the Hawks kept the pressure on. And ten minutes into the third, the Blackhawks tied the game.

Jake McCabe’s second of the season came off assists from Ryan Carpenter and Stillman. Once again, the Blackhawks had traffic around the netminder and it paid off.

After losing to the Leafs in Chicago when the Hawks had a two-goal lead after one period, Chicago had erased a three-goal deficit. And Lankinen, after allowing a couple soft goals, was playing much better.

Unfortunately, Lankinen lost his net chasing a dump-in that took a bad bounce and found a wide open David Kampf right in front of the net with 80 seconds left in regulation. The former Hawks forward didn’t miss the empty cage and Toronto had a 5-4 lead.

That brutal last goal cost the Blackhawks a point and a chance to earn a second one in overtime. Toronto held on in the final minute and won the game in spite of their defense.

This was a game the Blackhawks should be able to take a lot away from.

Strome 10 of 16 faceoffs and put four shots on net in 19:04 on the ice. Toews won 11 of 20 at the dot and was credited with a team-leading two takeaways in 17:05.

Murphy and McCabe had one goal and one assist each. Murphy led the Hawks with six hits and four blocked shots; McCabe picked up four hits and two blocked shots.

DeBrincat (7) and Kane (5) combined for 12 shots on net in the game but neither scored. Kurashev played one of his better games of the season and Kubalik finally got back into the scoring column.

Lankinen has had better nights. He stopped only 21 of 26 in the loss. The Blackhawks put 35 shots on net.

48 thoughts on “Blackhawks Erase 3-Goal Deficit, Still Come Up Short In Toronto

  • December 11, 2021 at 9:03 pm

    Sorry, I’m not that impressed with the alleged elite Loaves. They again will go nowhere in the playoffs. Hawks ended up dominating them 5 on 5. If they had a defensive physical Center to put a body on Matthew’s and Tavares they would have won easily. Toews had jump and finally appears ready to create offense and start pouring some pucks in the net. Strome played like an NHL Center. Best he has looked since he got here. We need Cat and Kane to start filling the net again. They were good tonight but you gotta finish,especially against this defensively weak team. Lankinen was weak and was responsible for at least 3 of their goals,it happens. Next game and let’s see if Toews and Strome can start stacking good strong games. Almost forgot Dach was irrelevant tonight. Onward!

  • December 11, 2021 at 9:08 pm

    Hated to lose this one after they battled back. Good to see some pucks finally starting to go in for Toews, Kubalik and the D, all needing them. Hope RJ is ok looked like maybe another concussion casualty. Too bad a compromise on those insanely hard shoulder pads where they protect the player delivering a hit that the old soft pads didn’t without causing the concussion incidents the ones of today do. Better be ready for the Flames forecheckers Monday or it could be a busy night for Fleury.

  • December 11, 2021 at 9:54 pm

    The Hawks lost the game simply because the coach decided to play the back up goalie instead of the hottest goalie in the league and it wasn’t a back to back situation. Lankinen sucked, and it cost the Hawks at least a point and likely two.

    So this game is on the coach. 1000%. Hockey 101 – you play the hot goalie, especially one of Fleury’s caliber. Horrible decision. Great effort by the team otherwise.

  • December 11, 2021 at 10:17 pm

    Iceman: Maybe they went out after the game Thursday to celebrate his night, he’s 37 years old, he’s not IronMan.

  • December 11, 2021 at 10:19 pm

    A bad bounce at the end of the Game and its over. What a nice team work with a nice comeback from the Hawks against an elite team .
    Fleury had an ordinary game against the Rangers then he had a strong game against Montreal and needed a rest and Lank had to play to stay in the game .
    Fleury will need another solid game in 2 days
    Nice to see Toews scoring another goal .Dach had no shot on goal ….hiiiii . The kid needs a good game or 2.
    Maybe bring back Mitchell who had another good game tonight.

  • December 11, 2021 at 10:20 pm

    I don’t blame Lankinen for the last goal. He was trying to help the team and puck took a bad bounce. Yes with 100% hindsight he helps his team by staying the net but not throwing him under the bus for trying to help the team. If you watch the replay Kampf scores because he is only one coming up the ice with his feet moving and gets to to puck and scores unchallenged as a Blackhawk Dman and forward are puck watching gliding into zone. Not saying they are to blame but if they were skating back too they may have prevented Kampf from getting to the puck so easily. One of those plays you want back. First period 2 goals were pp goals, good way to put yourself in a hole against a Leafs team. Certainly wasn’t one of Lankinens best games at all but he made some good saves to keep it close enough to tie it up at 4, not ready to jump on the he sucks bandwagon just yet. He isn’t waiver exempt and wouldn’t clear so not much chance he is going Rfd., he will bounce back he has before.

  • December 11, 2021 at 10:49 pm

    Not sure why Fleury didn`t get the call here for this game. First goal , Lakinen should have had. The fourth goal was weak as well ( but what was Dehaan doing way up on the right boards after leaving his left side spot in front of the net and chasing a player way out of out position and unable to score from way up there…… both Dehaan and the hawks right winger couldn`t gain possession of the puck and down it went behind our net and Engvall came out from behind the net un-attested ). Then the fifth goal……uuugghh! Unnecessary play by Lankinen but that`s in-experience for you. Two weak goals, one bad goal, a couple of weak penalties by Stillman and Dach losing Nylander on the second goal. Mistakes that you can`t make against good teams. A good effort against a good team was wasted here. Glad to see some goals go in.

  • December 11, 2021 at 10:58 pm

    Well what a game! Lanks played OK and an unfortunate bounce kept us from getting a point. But let us not forget it was the PK who lost us this game.

    Strome had his best game as a Hawk, Dach not so much. Cat had a case of the yips all night and Kane looked disinterested. I believe Dach needs to go down to the Rock for a couple of weeks to get his game in order. Every time he has the puck on his stick the play dies in the corner.

    Can we have more Mitchell and less DeHaan please.

    What was real nice to see was the 2nd unit PP that looked great, pass and shot pass and shot and they kept the momentum which I believe led to the comeback.

    Is it possible that Toronto’s defense is worse than ours to begin the season. The puck was a hot potato and their D kept turning the puck over like they were banking coin for each turnover. So the answer is yes. We should’ve scored 8 but Mrazek was pretty good all night.

  • December 11, 2021 at 11:10 pm

    Ouch. Damn, just ouch.

    I have not been a fan of Kurashev this season. Tonight, he played really well. I hope he this is a trend that continues. He did not get manhandled physically. I am more than a little surprised.

    If Fleury was in net tonight, the Hawks don’t give up five goals.

    Loved the Hawks scoring four 5 on 5 goals in regulation. They really did deserve better than that.

    Liked Strome tonight. Thought he was active and more persistent than he has been, well, ever. He created chances and was not a liability on defense. Hope this gets him over the hump in the coaches eyes.

    Starting to get worried about Kane. Not sure his issue is lack of engagement. It looks physical to me.

    I would like to see a lineup that has Strome, Borgstrom and Kurashev in the top nine together for a spell. Limit the fourth line to fourth liners. I don’t want to see more than three of the following players in the Hawks lineup at the same time for a while (pending injury): Carpenter, Hardman, R Johnson, Slavin, Kurtis (and Khaira when he returns.) I get that Borgstrom was out with an illness, but I think we can say with certainty that the Hawks top nine (in no particular order) is Kane, DeBrincat, Kubalik, Toews, Hagel, Dach, Strome, Borgstrom and Kurashev. I thought that coming out of camp, it still seems accurate today.

    I think the Hawks need to hold on to this game for a spell before letting it go. They need to recognize that they don’t need permission to beat an opponent that looks past them. Hold on to it for a day, accept that it happened. Then make every effort to never allow it to happen again.

  • December 11, 2021 at 11:20 pm

    Agree with Iceman…This one is on King

    Fleury should have been between the pipes.

  • December 11, 2021 at 11:57 pm

    Eh, This one is one Lanks, not King. This was a game that Lankinen should have been able to win. While Ido believe that if Fleury was in net, the Hawks don’t give up five goals, Lankinen should have stopped the first goal and the fourth goal.

    After 500 wins Fleury deserved to have a game off to reflect on it before getting back to the grind. Lanks should have had his back.

  • December 12, 2021 at 12:05 am

    Last couple of weeks Lankinen plays Oilers, Fleury plays Canucks. Lankinen plays Rangers, Fleury plays Isles on back to backs. Fleury plays Habs and Lankinen plays Leafs 3 wins against subpar teams for Fleury and 3 losses against tough teams for Lankinen but actually coulda won 2. Games in between, Fleury lost to the Flames, Lankinen beat the Blues, Fleury lost to Sharks, Fleury beat the Caps and Fleury lost to Rangers in return game. Hasn’t been as one sided in goal as everybody is saying.

  • December 12, 2021 at 12:28 am

    Agree 100% Ian. Was wondering why Lankinen is getting the tougher schedule and I’m guessing Hawks want Fleury numbers better for trade time (if he is willing to move along) and Lankinen’s numbers lower for contract time to keep his cost down. May sound a bit cynical, but I don’t think the scheduling of goalies is an accident.

    Also, note that the Hawks are not very often drawing the top goalie to play against, and still are struggling to score and win games.

  • December 12, 2021 at 12:45 am

    SS be interesting to see if next weekend trend continues and Fleury plays Friday against Preds and Lankinen in Saturday against Stars. Giving Lankinen tough starts will benefit him in his long term development, which should be a plus.

  • December 12, 2021 at 12:58 am

    Of course kudos to the Hawks for coming back – the difference was Leafs PP and at least one bad goal from Lank and a fluky game winner

    Mrazek didn’t give up a bad goal – – 5 on 5 the Hawks were the better team

    I hate to say it because I wish RJ well but they were better not having to play him

    Hopefully Strome can continue his play from tonight – King seemed to get good results with 17 between 12 and 88 after Strome played well with Kubalik

    No real complaints – they played hard and should have got a point

  • December 12, 2021 at 2:31 am

    I haven’t been focused on the Hawks much lately and consequently I haven’t been posting very often over the past 6-7 weeks – other things have had my attention. I came away from the game tonight with two main takeaways – (1) the Hawks play a better team game than they did 6-7 weeks ago and (2) if Lankinen doesn’t let in a couple leaky goals the Hawks probably win because they outplayed the Leafs for most of the game.

  • December 12, 2021 at 4:00 am

    Lanks over MAF–
    Perhaps Hawks GM/Office are waking up and collectively decided to Protect MAF and his value at TDL

    By sitting MAF versus high octane Leaf’s offense- Fleury stats look much stronger in long run- and MAF will net more at TDL.

  • December 12, 2021 at 5:43 am

    I agree with Hammer Time, Fleury and Borgstrom probably had too much milk and cookies in celebration after the game in Montreal.

    Tough way to lose. But, if there are ‘goalie wins’, this was clearly a ‘goalie loss’

    Ebonyrpator, good to see you’re back. I thought maybe you took the pipe after the Bowman and Colliton firings. I honestly and sincerely hope there was nothing serious in your needing to take a sabbatical.

    Dollar Bill, I was delighted to read your post: Positive, good observations and insights and not one insult. I agree with everything you said. Glad you were able to enjoy the game and appreciate the effort.

    BTW, did anyone read Mike Milbury’s comments on Derek King?

  • December 12, 2021 at 6:28 am

    For the people wondering why Fleury wasn’t in there, it’s quite simple: $$ Hawks are having a “celebration” honoring Fleury Monday night for his 500th win and they have to drum up some must needed ticket sales for it. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. When I heard that last night, I came to the conclusion that probably the “intern” will be named StanBo’s successor. Tough way to lose last night but they didn’t give up. Entertaining game!!

  • December 12, 2021 at 7:39 am

    I don’t buy the theory that the Hawks are trying to increase Fleury’s trade value by playing him against weaker teams. Any GM worth his salt is going to look beyond the win/loss numbers to evaluate a trade potential.

  • December 12, 2021 at 7:55 am

    Send Lank down bring a warm body up , that was a complete goalie loss.
    We have a large deficiency in goal when M.A.F is removed from the equation,and Fleury will be moved .

    Time to expose the Rockford goalies to some N.H.L experience .

    See ,rebuilding can be fun .

  • December 12, 2021 at 8:16 am

    I hope everything is Ok Ebony and if not thoughts with you.

    Miroslav well said, the blame game is in full throttle again-Lank had a bad game, no more no less.
    I ;like watching them play lately.

  • December 12, 2021 at 9:12 am

    Dach has got to be the biggest dissapointment (BY FAR) this year. He seldom starts & stops – preferring to skate in “figure 8” circles with lots of effortless gliding. (especially in the defensive zone). He never finds a way to finish on the offense & relies too much on poke checking with his stick on the defense. He is weak along the boards & joins scrums in the corners, instead of defending the slot. Along with that…..I don’t think he’s ever won a faceoff draw in his entire career. His facial expressions show his frustrations, and maybe a few games with the Ice Hogs will build up his confidence again. (see Kurashev). Sorry for the negative post, but someone needed to tell it like it is about this over-rated prospect.

  • December 12, 2021 at 9:41 am

    Pucklogic not saying why but look at Fleurys 10 starts since King took over. Pens, Coyotes, Kraken, Canucks, Flames, Sharks, Caps, Isles, Rangers and Habs. 7 are games you would say they should win and only 3 Flames, Caps and Rangers are against heavy favorites. Whereas Lankinen since King took over had 5 starts. His very 1st game as coach against Preds, Oilers, Blues, Rangers and Leafs. 4 out of 5 heavily favoured teams. Obviously Fleury starts are heavy on games they should win for a reason. IIfhe is just saying Lankinens games are ok to lose, players would pick up on that, so don’t see that as legit reason.

    EB good your back, hope all is well with you.

    2015 how do you propose to get Lankinen to Rfd., no chance he clears waivers.

  • December 12, 2021 at 10:01 am

    Be interesting to see the lines if Borgstrom is back Monday vs CAL

    If that is the new Dylan Strome I like it but it could be a one-off – we’ll see but if Strome is going to compete the way he did last night he can be valuable – in fact I think he should replace Carp on PP1

    Maybe 12 17 88
    22-36-86 or maybe Entwistle is ready to rejoin the team and take Hardman’s place

  • December 12, 2021 at 10:26 am

    Wrap at this point, why not try Strome with 12 and 88 for a few games, maybe up his trade value and find a taker for him, still don’t think he is in long term plans. Like to see Dach with 38 and 19 for a couple of games, instead of RJ. Let Borgstrom Kub and Kur play together in what could become a long term trio, if Dach as expected moves back between 12 and 88 at some point. Reichel or maybe TJ when he returns fills out the 38, 19 line. Gabriel(34) with 22 and 36 until Entwistle available is ok, then decisions on who plays a little tougher.

  • December 12, 2021 at 10:31 am

    Brilliant insight on last night’s game. Send a goalie down,who has to clear waivers and won’t ,after giving up a couple of soft goals. Please share more on the game.

  • December 12, 2021 at 10:43 am

    Ian – yeah I’d be fine with giving Dach a look as Toews’ winger but he did well with Kur and Kub so I’m also fine leaving him there

    The key point is that if 13 and 17 are both in the line up we have our 9 most skilled players on the top 3 lines as it should be

  • December 12, 2021 at 10:48 am

    Is Lank a proven n.h.l goalie ? Is he an asset ? Perhaps on a team like Buffalo .You think we have a problem at center???? Glaring issue in net .

    My crystal ball unlike yours says he will he will clear waivers .

  • December 12, 2021 at 10:58 am

    M-A-F is something of a chicken-egg paradox: He played in a lot of games they “should” win because the reason they should win is because he is playing (after Colliton).

    We all know where this team would be without his level of play in goal. Last night was a reminder for those that forgot.

  • December 12, 2021 at 11:20 am

    @John Galt

    Thanks but I actually didn’t change, it was the Hawks who changed and played well.

    Maybe Lanks needs more work to be effiecient and like many here have said, MAF has been getting the easier opponents to play against for sure. I don’t know whether or not it’s for reasons stated i.e.
    trade value, keep him fresh, etc.etc.

    I still wish we had Corey, yes even over MAF.

    Finally that was by far the best game the Hawks have played since the firing of Q, but the PK
    sucked and cost them the game. One other note, after getting the goal that tied the game, Toronto
    took over possession and play.

  • December 12, 2021 at 11:31 am

    I honestly don’t think the coaches care about trade value, if that were the case, Strome would be playing every night with Kane and DeBrincat to pad his stats to increase his trade value. I think the coaches are simply trying to win as many games they can.

    One thing to consider is the Hawks lack of 5 on 5 scoring up to this point. If your team isn’t able to score more than 2 goals in regulation (the Hawks failed to do that 13 of the 15 games under King) it makes sense to play Fleury against teams that don’t score as much to increase the chance of getting points in games those games, rather than wasting it with an effort where he gives up only 3 or 4 goals against potent offenses. It matters little if the Hawks lose to the Oilers 5-2 or 3-2.

    Once the Hawks show they can score more, then it makes sense to play your best players against the best opponents. If Lankinen gives up 2 or 3 against the Canucks, it’s ok if the Hawks are averaging more than 3 goals a game. But until then, you better play the guy who has a better chance keeping the opposition under 3 goals…

    If there was a leaked memo that showed Davidson giving King a directive to try to increase a players trade value, I might believe this crazy theory. But there is no logical reason why King would work against his own best interest to “help” Davidson trade the player who is most likely able to help the Hawks get to the playoffs. If it got out that King was taking coaching directives from the GM, his integrity would be suspect and no NHL team would want him on their coaching staff.

  • December 12, 2021 at 11:33 am

    @Hammer Time

    Ticket packages are now available at Costco.

    The didn’t call me Dollar Bill for nothing, but I’m so proud to see Rocky following
    in my footsteps, except for the TV coverage he gave away with Turtleneck as CEO

  • December 12, 2021 at 12:25 pm

    Tim W: There sure are some brilliant comments on what needs to happen here. LOL!!! “Lank on waivers”, “Dach send back to Rockford”, “starting Lank to protect MAF’s trade value”. That’s why I’m here….to get my daily laughs!!!

  • December 12, 2021 at 12:43 pm

    Thanks for the good thoughts. It’s not something I want to bring here and I’m hopeful time will help.

    Meanwhile, I’m still “Mr. Pollyanna” and see some positive things. Not enough for an optimistically rosey view for the near future, but far from doom and gloom.

    It was good to see Toews score.

  • December 12, 2021 at 1:18 pm

    Welcome back ER – good luck with whatever you’re dealing with

  • December 12, 2021 at 2:29 pm

    Hammer, Yes,sometimes it reminds me of the old Mike North radio show on the Score. He would spew the most ridiculous opinions to draw attention. A true contrarion.

  • December 12, 2021 at 2:59 pm

    I know I have been focusing on the next Stanley cup and that requires a young core. Why I usually talk about young wave. So we’re still at -5 with three other teams with ari mon?/thought they were a great team last yr way ahead at -15 for top 5 skill draft players.

    We got a shot at top picks in lottery even at 3rd place. Isl van should be good teams to stay ahead and shit teams like nj la others are ahead a good amount surprisingly stay ahead please. That’s a 3 4 5 6 place for top 1 2 pick and 30-35 th pick which are usually gems for us.

    Load young wave! It’s the only way to get high quality core again.

    Help us o b 1 your our only hope.

  • December 12, 2021 at 3:06 pm

    Young core/or wave players
    Any young D that turns up keepers

    So once new gm team system new identity makes the revamp rosters this is basically the chiseled out keepers?

    Another yr of top 5 skill draft player were we get to keep the top 5 skill player has us in good shape. Then add elite ufas and fill in with Tim types center with fo and we’re are back for the 24 season on the verge.

  • December 12, 2021 at 3:12 pm

    ER, I had a rough summer and another good friend died right before thanksgiving. So that just was like after everything went through this summer get going again sort of and then get smacked like that. So whatever your going through I hear you.

    Keeping pushing. We will be back.

  • December 12, 2021 at 4:25 pm

    I can’t believe so many posters here never heard of the concept of teams showcasing a player for a trade. Teams have been doing it for quite a number of years on a yearly basis.

  • December 12, 2021 at 5:16 pm

    Tim W: It was amazing how many people in Chicagoland that got their sports advice from a Hot Dog vendor. I couldn’t stand him.

  • December 12, 2021 at 5:43 pm

    @Ian, just because people don’t think the Hawks are showcasing Fleury doesn’t mean they don’t understand the concept. I personally think there are better explanations for why Fleury has been started the way he has been, than being showcased for a trade…

    If we get close to the Olympic break and the Hawks are not significantly above .500 and within sniffing distance of a playoff spot, well, I may be more inclined to see it your way.

  • December 12, 2021 at 6:15 pm

    Is this a dating site ? Hammer and Timmy should get a room with all their ass kissing smoochie facing .

  • December 12, 2021 at 6:43 pm

    Miroslav fair enough, i doubt that its the main reason either, but not saying its not possible. Certainly possible it could fit in with what they are doing, trying to take it slowly and make Lankinen a ready goalie could also be part of it too. Still be watching to see if Fleury plays against Preds and Lanks against Stars, be the 5th weekend in a row Lankinen got tougher start. May be reasons none of us discussed why, it seem to be looking predictable though.

  • December 12, 2021 at 7:02 pm

    Hawks2015, We were just passing some time waiting on more of your hockey acumen and brilliance. Can hardly wait. Keep us enlightened.

  • December 12, 2021 at 9:09 pm

    We???? Who are you including in that ?
    Oh …you and your date .
    How could i possibly keep you enlightened , a person of your Superior Hawks know how ?

    I look forward to your next repetitive Toews bashing blurb Timmy.

  • December 13, 2021 at 6:40 am

    So looks like we can officially close book on 32.

    Methinks after that Toronto game where he looked awful on 4, count em 4, of the 5 goals Toronto got, including GWG, his time had expired in the NHL.

    He cost his hardworking teammates a point, maybe 2, and has been mediocre at best, behind 29 this year.

    After a year when he wilted down the stretch?

    Rockford is calling his name.
    Time to give another goalie a look for the #2 slot.

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