Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Toronto Maple Leafs

Five Takeaways - Leafs @ Blackhawks - 10/22/16

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 5-4 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday at United Center:

by Adam Proteau /

1. Leafs give up game's first goal for first time this season, but storm back with two straight. The Leafs had scored first in each of their first four regular-season games this year, but it was the Blackhawks who took the first lead of the night Saturday when Artem Anisimov scored 3:37 into the first period. However, with only 14 seconds remaining before the first intermission, veteran centre Tyler Bozak deflected a Jake Gardiner shot past goalie Scott Darling for his first marker of the season.

Toronto then took a 2-1 lead on the power play at the 9:28 mark of the second frame when forward William Nylander took a smart cross-ice feed from linemate Auston Matthews and scored his second of the year. Nylander barely had the puck on his stick for a half-second and showed why he has one of the team's best shots - but it was Matthews who was responsible for finding him in the right position and getting the puck to him perfectly. 

2. Buds' penalty killers on point, but even-strength play needs work. The Hawks received six power play opportunities on the night - including a nine-second two-man-advantage late in the second, and two penalties in overtime - but Toronto's penalty killing unit was up to the challenge, preventing the highly-skilled host team from scoring on any of them. That said, the Leafs' play at 5-on-5 remains a work-in-progress: Chicago evened the score at two goals apiece less than two minutes after Nylander's goal when rookie Tyler Motte scored his second career NHL goal at 11:08.

The Buds need to show more discipline in the amount of penalties they're taking, but their commitment to killing them off has been admirable. Now they just need to transfer that attention to detail and success in winning puck battles to the stretches in which they don't have a player in the penalty box.

3. Another Gardiner shot leads to good things, including a Leafs goal to take the lead. Gardiner didn't receive an assist on James van Riemsdyk's goal that put Toronto ahead 3-2 with 1:44 remaining in the middle frame, but his shot from the point began the scramble in front of Darling that ended when van Riemsdyk knocked it in for his second of the year. 

Gardiner now has four assists on the season, tying him with Nylander for the team lead. He's been solid all-around and his focus on starting the season strongly - something he admitted after practice earlier this week hasn't always been easy for him at the NHL level - is paying off.

4. Toronto takes lead into third period for fifth time in as many games, but gets better results thanks to Nylander and Matthews. In all four games prior to Saturday's tilt, the Leafs held a lead entering the third period, but maintaining it has proven to be an issue, with Toronto recording just one regulation-time win and two overtime losses before Saturday. And early in the third period, they got help from the Nylander-Matthews-Zach-Hyman line in trying to change that pattern.


Video: TOR@CHI: Nylander finishes rush with rebound goal

Matthews began the play by pushing the puck up the ice and into the zone with a defender hanging all over him, then firing a shot at Darling; the puck bounced out to a wide-open Nylander, who buried it at the 4:46 mark for his second of the night and a 4-2 Toronto lead. With Hyman doing much of the dirty work along the boards and in the corners, Matthews and Nylander are able to demonstrate their considerable creativity and vision with the puck - and thus far, the opposition has faced a monstrous challenge trying to defend against them.

5. Late-game defensive breakdowns come back to haunt Leafs again. The Leafs did a good job controlling the play and pressuring Chicago for much of the third period, but you knew the veteran Hawks were going to push back, and that's what they did, getting their third goal of the game on Anisimov's second of the night at 17:32, then tying it exactly one minute later on Richard Panik's sixth goal of the season.

Toronto held off the Blackhawks for the rest of regulation time, but van Riemsdyk received a penalty 32 seconds into overtime - and although Andersen made some excellent stops to help kill off that penalty and give his team a chance to win it, winger Mitch Marner was called for a hooking penalty with 40 seconds left in the extra period, putting the Buds down a man for the rest of team play.

In the shootout, the Hawks got goals from captain Jonathan Toews and Artemi Panarin, while Matthews was the sole Leaf to find the net, giving Chicago the come-from-behind win. It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Buds, who played well for a lot of the night, but couldn't close out on the defensive end to earn the win.

View More