TORONTO: It's hardly new for a hockey team to consider a matchup against a recent Stanley Cup champion a ``measuring-stick'' game. Riding a two-game winning streak against the meek and the injured, the Toronto Maple Leafs saw their showdown with the Chicago Blackhawks as a chance to prove themselves.
Thanks to a solid puck-possession game through two periods and stellar goaltending and timely offence, especially in the third, the Leafs didn't just hang with one of the NHL's best _ they beat the Blackhawks 3-2 Saturday night at Air Canada Centre.
Peter Holland scored the game-winner, and James Reimer stopped 45 of the 47 shots he faced, including 26 saves in the third period. Nazem Kadri and James van Riemsdyk also scored for the Leafs (6-4-1).
Brad Richards and Brent Seabrook scored power-play goals for Chicago (6-4-1). Goaltender Corey Crawford, who was making his first start since Oct. 18 because of an upper-body injury, made 24 saves.
Toronto improved to 3-4-0 at home this season.
The Leafs go west for a two-game road trip to face the reeling Arizona Coyotes and middling Colorado Avalanche next week. The Blackhawks host the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday before travelling to Montreal to play the Canadiens.
On the game's first shift the Leafs had a chance to jump on Crawford, who was making his first start since Oct. 18 because of a lower-body injury. Tyler Bozak had van Riemsdyk on a two-on-one but waited too long, and Chicago defenceman Brent Seabrook slid in the way of the pass to break it up.
Less than a minute later, Trevor van Riemsdyk, playing older brother James in a regulation game for the first time in their lives, got a shot on net after a drop pass from Patrick Kane. Reimer made the save to keep it scoreless.
At the 14:10 mark of the first, Kadri gave the Leafs a 1-0 lead. Phil Kessel dangled and dished the puck to Daniel Winnik, who got it to Kadri in front for the goal, his fourth of the season.
With Sam Carrick _ in his NHL debut _ in the penalty box for hooking Trevor van Riemsdyk, the Blackhawks evened up the scoring. Richards blasted a slap shot from the left faceoff circle short side on Reimer to make it 1-1 at 16:28.
A questionable hooking call on Bozak early in the second led to Chicago's second power-play goal. Off a pass from Kane, Seabrook fired a one-timer glove side at 4:18 to give the Blackhawks the 2-1 lead.
Sixty-four seconds later at 5:22 of the second, James van Riemsdyk took advantage of a turnover from Johnny Oduya and fired past Crawford to tie it up again. It was van Riemsdyk's 100th NHL goal and 100th point with the Leafs.
Early in the third period, Toronto's third line cashed in on a strong shift in the offensive zone. Leo Komarov forced a turnover behind the net and fed a wide-open Holland in front for his first of the season to make it 3-2 Leafs at the 2:21 mark.
It was Holland's fourth goal in four games against the Blackhawks and just the 11th of his career.
On a penalty kill a few minutes later, Reimer was fortunate when a shot rang off the cross-bar but then made two or three highlight-reel saves on Andrew Shaw in front to keep his team ahead.
The Leafs survived another penalty kill in the third, and then Reimer was excellent in keeping the puck out of the net on a scramble with a minute left.
Note _ Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said before the game that Joffrey Lupul will miss three weeks with a broken bone in his right hand. Lupul's injured hand will remain in a cast for at least 10 days before he can put a glove on it again, Carlyle said. Blackhawks defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson took a puck to the face in the second period. Hjalmarsson, who does not wear a protective visor was cut just below his left eye and left the ice in distress. The game was delayed for a few minutes while blood was cleaned up off the ice. Hjalmarsson returned at the start of the third period wearing a visor. ... ``O Canada'' was performed by 19-year-old Carley Allison, a survivor of trachea cancer who is currently battling double lung cancer. ... During the second period, PA announcer Andy Frost offered the team's well-wishes to Gordie Howe, who's recovering from a serious stroke. Arena video boards featured the message: ``Stay Strong Mr. Hockey.''