Even though the Maple Leafs had their lowest scoring output of the young season, they played their best overall game in a 4-3 come-from-behind overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks offense showed off just how scary they can be in the first period, but benefitted from so luck. Rookie defenseman Jan Rutta opened up the scoring just 3:46 into the game as his centering pass from left the goal deflected off the stick of Mitch Marner and wound up in the Leafs’ net.
Just over four minutes later, Frederik Andersen lost his stick and the Blackhawks top line took full advantage of it. After an aggressive forecheck gain possession of the puck, former Leaf Richard Panik drove hard to the net and was denied by Andersen, but Jonathan Toews was right in front to lift the rebound over the Leafs net minder.
Nikita Zaitsev got the Leafs on the board at 10:20 of the second period with his second goal of the year. With the fourth line on the ice, Zaitsev was able to blow by Patrick Kane to get to the right circle to receive a nice feed from Connor Brown and beat Anton Forsberg through the five-hole. Calle Rosen picked up his first career NHL point with the secondary assist.
The Leafs dominated a very sloppy second period which saw seven combined minor penalties called. They outshot the Blackhawks 19-6, but were only able to get the lone puck past Forsberg.
The bad luck continued on the Blackhawks third goal of the night at 7:52 of the third period. While Adreas Borgman was in the box for interference, Gustav Forsling’s shot from the point went well wide, but the rebound off of the end boards went right to the stick of Panik (of course) for the easy tap in goal.
Connor Brown’s first goal of the season cut the Chicago lead to 3-2 with exactly seven minutes remaining in overtime. Brown found a soft spot in the slot where he took a feed from Zaitsev and shot through a Leo Komarov screen and Forsberg. Ron Hainsey had the secondary assist.
A minute and a half later, Nazem Kadri earned the Leafs another power play by driving hard to the net. The puck luck Gods finally smiled on the Leafs at 15:42 as Tyler Bozak’s pass hit of the skate of James van Riemsdyk, who was camped out in front of the net, and bounced into the Hawks net. Morgan Rielly had the secondary assist on JVR’s second goal of the season.
In overtime, Auston Mattews completed the comeback by going top shelf on Forsberg and the Maple Leafs their sixth point in three games. How much fun is this team?