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Blackhawks survive late Leafs' push for 3-2 win

by John Kreiser /


The United Center is a happy place for the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans these days.

The Hawks held off Toronto 3-2 on Friday night for their sixth consecutive win at home, their longest streak since 2002. Patrick Kane Duncan Keith and Troy Brouwer scored for the Hawks, who built a 3-0 lead and survived two goals by Phil Kessel for their third win in a row.

"You never relax," Brouwer said. "It doesn't matter where teams are in the standings. They can be dangerous at any time."

Kane intercepted Luke Schenn as he came around from behind the net, stole the puck from him and scored just 3:22 into the game.

"You have to move the puck," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "You can't get stripped like that."

Keith's slapper through traffic at 13:20 make it 2-0, and Cristobal Huet stopped two close-in stuff attempts by Niklas Hagman late in the period before officials turned to video replay to see if the puck had crossed the line, eventually ruling there was no conclusive evidence to show that it had.

"I know they say inconclusive, but I don't know if it can get more conclusive than that from our point of view," Wilson said.

"At least it would have stemmed the bleeding in the first period and we could have come out of the period down 2-1. ... The one we saw the puck was in and the puck actually was behind the goal post in his glove. So generally you would have to assume if you don't see the puck and the glove is behind the goal post, then it's in the net."

Brouwer deflected Patrick Sharp's power-play past Vesa Toskala for a three-goal lead at 5:31 of the second period.

It looked as if Chicago was going to reward its season-high crowd of 21,036 with an easy win, but the Leafs came alive.

"It's been some time since we had a situation like that," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said of the big early lead, "and we let it unravel."

Kessel's first goal at 17:51 ended Huet's shutout bid and made it 3-1. Kessel scored again 5:33 into the third period to make it a one-goal game.

Kessel, who missed the first month of the season after summertime shoulder surgery, now has four goals and is showing why the Leafs were willing to give up two first-round picks to Boston to get him.

"You can see why he's so dangerous," Wilson said. "He has a great release and he's hitting his spots. His timing is pretty good. It's coming for him now."

Huet finished with 29 saves -- and the plaudits of his teammates.

"We came out really hard and played a good first couple of periods," Keith said. "That goal late in the second period gave them some life, and they came out hard in the third and had a lot of chances. Huet made some big saves. That's what we needed in that situation. It was nice we were able to hang on."

Toskala made 31 saves, including bid stops on Jonathan Toews and Kane in the final minutes to keep the Leafs within a goal.

"Vesa had an outstanding night," Wilson said. "He made a dozen great saves when we needed them. We made a couple of bonehead plays, and in the end they cost us."



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