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Recap: Maple Leafs smoke Chicago Blackhawks in overtime thriller

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They worked hard, then harder, then hardest, and in the end Matthews delivered the win.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Toronto Maple Leafs Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s note: Please welcome our new staff reporter Hardev Lad.
You can follow him on Twitter: @hardevlad

First Period

Kadri, with Marleau and Komarov, begins the game matched up against the Panik - Toews - Saad line at home. And the line immediately jumps into the offensive zone and refuses to leave.

Matthews’ line follows and Auston has a great early chance in close after stealing the puck from Gustav Forsling near the offensive blueline, but it is shot wide on the short-side.

3:23 into the period the Blackhawks ice the puck. The entire game up to this point has been in the Hawks’ end.

0-1

The Bozak line begins the shift in the offensive zone with JVR getting a decent shot off. The play goes the other way where Jan Rutta scores off a shot from behind the net. How did that puck go in? It bounced off of Mitch Marner’s stick as he was trying to check the puck away. Rutta is a free-agent signing out of the Czech Republic. Think of him as Chicago’s Czech version of Zaitsev, Rosen or Borgman.

Giving up the first goal seems to have shaken the Leafs up a little bit, Chicago has come on and has started to catch up to the Leafs in offensive zone time.

Fehr gets a fantastic chance right in front of the net a few minutes later, but he can’t get the forehand over the pad of the sprawling Anton Forsberg. Plays like this would become a theme throughout the night.

0-2

The Toews line comes back the other way and Jonathan Toews picks up a rebound right in front of the net and, without Panik-ing, buries the Richard Panik shot.

The next shift Ron Hainsey takes a slashing penalty. Despite Mike Babcock having one of his most important penalty killers in the box, the Leafs do an admirable job and kill off the two-minute infraction.

The back half of the period sees the Leafs gain their feet again defensively. However, when the offense breaks out of the zone, the passes seem to always be just out of reach and not fully crisp.

Also in this period we see a great veteran play from Matt Martin. He and Gustav Forsling are racing for an icing and the whistle is called late. Forsling is going too fast to slow down without hurting himself so Martin bear-hugs him, saving the Hawks defenseman. Good on Martin.

The Period ends with a little optimism for the blue and white. The Bozak line did not have a great period. Their defensive deficiencies definitely showed.

Second Period

Hyman and Nylander get a partial 2-on-1. They are almost able to bang the puck in but Forsberg covers it up.

Alex Debrincat skates the puck from inside his own zone into the offensive zone, OHL-style, and draws a slashing penalty. This is the second slashing penalty of the night for the Leafs, this time Eric Fehr gets the call. The Leafs, once again, do a great job of keeping the Hawks to the perimeter and successfully kill it off.

The Hyman - Matthews - Nylander line jump onto the ice and have a Harlem Globetrotters shift and earn a powerplay for themselves. If it weren’t for an amazing post-to-post save from Anton Forsberg the shift would’ve ended with a goal.

The powerplay could never get set up and the Hawks kill it off. Sigh.

The shift following the powerplay the 4th line of Martin - Fehr - Brown come on against the Patrick Kane line and...

1-2

THE FOURTH LINE SCORES!!!! Matt Martin does a great job behind the net in the cycle getting the puck to the point. Zaitsev and Brown have a cross ice give-and-go (with some help from Calle Rosen) and Zaitsev’s slapshot goes through the five-hole of the Hawk’s netminder. This was Zaitsev’s second goal in as many games! Rosen earns his first career NHL point on the play and it was a point that every kid dreams of having...a secondary assist!

Interesting note, we all know of Mike Babcock’s post-special teams lines, namely Marleau - Matthews - Marner or Kadri - Matthews - Nylander. It seems like he is doing the same with the defense pairs. Rosen was out with Zaitsev on that play following the powerplay.

The penalties have gone back and forth this period. Hyman takes an offensive zone holding penalty. Hartman takes a hooking penalty... also in the offensive zone. There ended up being 8 penalties in the second frame alone.

On the ensuing powerplay, Marner takes a shot that goes wide, Saad picks up the puck and drives to the net, beating Calle Rosen to the net. Rosen is forced to take a holding penalty on the play, ending the PP.

Rosen taking that penalty may have been a blessing in disguise. Jake Garinder, Morgan Rielly and William Nylander all looked extremely dynamic and dangerous during the ensuing 4-on-4. They end up drawing another penalty, earning a 4 on 3 powerplay.

The Bozak lines comes out and has two great chances but they fail to capitalize.

The period ends and this stat gets brought to my attention:

Auston Matthews and his line were god-like in that period. The best part about those numbers is that they continued into the third!

Third Period

As promised, the Matthews line comes back for the 3rd and continues to look dominant. Hyman makes a great power move after entering the zone against Duncan Keith. his backhand shot is a good one but is stopped by Forsberg. Forsberg’s lateral movement has stood out so far as one of his strengths.

Borgman destroys Debrincat along the boards and takes an interference penalty.

1-3

On the ensuing penalty kill Richard Panik (of course) one-times the bank-pass from Gustav Forsling from behind the net and scores to make it 3-1. Drat.

The Bozak line had a shift where it looked like they were playing with a powerplay, they got three great chances, the best of which was from Marner who had a wide open cage. Unfortunately, he was standing just below the goal line and couldn’t bank the puck off of the goalie and in.

The Matthews line comes out right after and the next wave ends with a drawn slashing penalty for Zach Hyman. Once again, the powerplay cannot convert.

But that doesn’t matter because...

2-3

Connor Brown on the Kadri line with Komarov scores from the top of the slot!!! Brown, once again, teams up with Zaitsev on a give-and-go. This gives Mr. Downtown enough space to wrist a shot past Forsberg and into the net.

Kadri has his own grade-A scoring chance after he dangled to get around the defender but had his stick tied up from behind.

3-3

Bozak shoots on the powerplay and JVR’s skate scores! Finally the powerplay converts on a goal.

Gardiner goes for slashing and its Chicago’s chance to get the lead back with over 3 minutes to play in the game. They almost score but Andersen makes an impressive shoulder save and the Leafs kill it off.

As the clock ticks down neither team is able to score. WE GO TO 3 ON 3 OVERTIME

The Leafs kept Chicago to two shots at five-on-five in that period, as per Natural Stat Trick

Overtime

Connor Brown looks like he’s been promoted, starting the overtime with Nazem Kadri.

Nylander with a glorious shot... It was going in... top shelf... but Anton Forsberg blockers it away.

Gardiner has his own opportunity on, yet another, 2 on 1. hes also stopped on the same side by Forsberg.

4-3 OT

On their third 2-on-1 of the overtime, Auston Matthews comes in and roofs it on the Chicago goaltender, winning it for the Buds! After losing their previous two games against the Blackhawks in overtime, that play truly was third time’s the charm.