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Lupul, Raymond help Maple Leafs handle Blackhawks

by Joe Yerdon

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs didn't just break their eight-game losing streak against the Chicago Blackhawks. They shattered it.

Joffrey Lupul and Mason Raymond each had four points to help the Maple Leafs rout the Blackhawks 7-3 at Air Canada Centre on Saturday for their first win against Chicago in a decade.

The Maple Leafs hadn't beaten the Blackhawks anywhere since Feb. 12, 2003, and hadn't done it at Air Canada Centre since Dec. 1, 2001. But after an even first period, the Maple Leafs blew the game open by outscoring the Blackhawks 4-1 in the second on goals by Peter Holland, Lupul, Jerry D'Amigo and Nikolai Kulemin to take a 5-2 lead into the final 20 minutes.

The line of Lupul, Raymond and Holland combined for 11 points.

"It was a good night for us," Lupul said after the Maple Leafs won for the first time in four games. "It was nice to get one in the first and the whole night I think all three of us had our legs and we were playing strong below the hash marks in both zones, getting pucks out of our end, and playing strong in their end. It was a fun night for us."

Holland's power-play goal at 7:14 of the first period gave the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead. Holland was standing by the far post of Antti Raanta's net when Lupul connected with him on a cross-crease pass.

"We seemed to click tonight," Holland said. "Obviously getting that first one... kind of kick-started things for us and it just kind of seemed we kept finding each other all night. We had a lot of fun playing together tonight. Things clicked."

The Blackhawks tied it when Patrick Kane scored a 5-on-3 power-play goal at 16:14. Kane looked to pass across the crease to Patrick Sharp; instead, the puck bounced off Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf and through the legs of Jonathan Bernier.

D'Amigo, playing in place of David Clarkson on the third line, gave the Maple Leafs a 2-1 lead 42 seconds into the second period with his first NHL goal when he tapped in a rebound of a Kulemin shot past Raanta. Clarkson was serving the first game of a two-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka.

"I just poked it in and after that it was all excitement going through my head," D'Amigo said. "I'm just pretty happy right now. I'm still shocked at the game and I scored my first goal."

Holland's goal made it 3-1 at 12:09 of the second. He scored with a one-timer with a pass by Raymond. Holland's goals were his fourth and fifth of the season.

"We're always striving, specifically this year, that we've been challenged to get offense spread out through our lineup," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "It was nice to see that some young kids got an opportunity."

Kane's second goal of the game at 13:30 made it 3-2. He broke in 2-on-1 with Kris Versteeg but never looked to pass and sent a wrist shot past Bernier. Kane's two goals give him 19 this season.

The Maple Leafs restored their two-goal lead at 14:36 when Kulemin scored his fourth. A slap shot from the slot was set up by a pass from Jay McClement.

"They gave us safe minutes," Carlyle said of his third line. "It was a little bit of a risk to put D'Amigo with McClement and Kulemin that maybe we'd create a little bit more of a checking line. We matched them up against [Jonathan] Toews, [Marian] Hossa, and [Patrick] Sharp. They did a heck of a job for us."

The Blackhawks line of Toews, Hossa, and Sharp combined for two assists and were minus-6.

Lupul's power-play goal at 17:08 gave the Maple Leafs a 5-2 lead. He tipped home a shot from the point by defenseman Jake Gardiner.

"They were using their chances pretty good," Raanta said. "Of course it is disappointment, but we are going to play tomorrow. We have to just put the work clothes on and start thinking about what went wrong. I think it is going to be OK after a couple of hours."

Rookie goalie Kent Simpson replaced Raanta in goal at the start of the third period for Chicago and was beaten by Lupul 28 seconds into his NHL debut. Lupul's wrist shot from the faceoff circle beat Simpson for his second goal of the game and 10th of the season to make it 6-2.

It was a rude ending to a three-game winning streak in which the Blackhawks had piled up 19 goals/

"We were probably looking for an easy game, thinking we were going to score six goals and that's not going to happen in this league," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We had a lot of fortunate goals over that stretch and I think we let our guard down tonight and got what we deserved."

Chicago's Brandon Saad scored his 12th goal of the season 7:38 into the third period, but Phil Kessel's 17th 55 seconds later ended the scoring.

"We came into the game feeling like it was pretty close to a must win for us," Lupul said. "Things were starting to kind of snowball the other way and we got things going our way early today and I think, most importantly, we finished a game off which is something we struggled to do this year."

Bernier made 25 saves. Raanta made 20; Simpson finished with five.

The Maple Leafs go on the road to face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday. The Blackhawks head home to face the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday night.

"We want to build," Lupul said. "We'd love to celebrate this one but it's kind of go in and get some rest now and off to Pittsburgh to play another very good team in their building. It doesn't get any easier but winning a game against the top team in the league gives you a little bit of confidence so hopefully we can run with it."

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