TORONTO – Things looked bleak for the Maple Leafs, coming off a losing performance in St. Louis that coach Randy Carlyle termed “brain-dead” and with the league-leading Chicago Blackhawks in town.
Joffrey Lupul and Peter Holland each scored twice and combined with linemate Mason Raymond for 11 points to lift Toronto to a commanding 7-3 win over the Stanley Cup champions.
Holland had a chance at his hat trick but shot wide on a breakaway. Seconds later, Saad pulled one back for Chicago with a tip-in at 7:38 for his 12th of the season.
Lupul finished with two goals and two assists while Raymond had four assists and Holland two goals and an assist on a breakout night for the newly assembled Leafs’ second line.
See Randy Carlyle’s post-game presser here: http://t.co/3wbb6iNaKR
It was the first time in a long time where Leafs took a lead and did not cough it up.
It was one of those games where you just knew that someone was not going to show up to play. For the
past couple nights, it had been Leafs who didn’t bother to show up, especially on Thursday night when they all looked clueless, they played better the night before but when you only score one goal, it’s a lot harder to argue the positive.
Last night’s victory may turn out to be one of the biggest of the entire season, that in itself is a bit sad, considering it is December and there is still plenty of hockey left on the schedule. Last night’s game was a bit like those matchups from 15 years ago when Leafs would take a 10-game losing skid into Detroit and then proceed to beat the crap out of the Red Wings. The Blackhawks are basically the ‘new’ Red Wings’.
When Peter Holland scored the game’s opening goal, it was the best start the team could have asked for, it looked real good, too. It also helped everyone forget about Tyler Bozak and David Bolland, at least for a few hours one night anyway.
Last night belonged to Lupul, Holland and Raymond who combined for 11 points; albeit it came against Chicago’s third string netminder, someone none of us have ever heard of, but with Nikolai Khabibulin and Corey Crawford out, Chicago had to run with Antti Raanta.
Toronto then ran him out of the building, forcing a goaltending change to start the third period.
“We really felt we needed a win,” Lupul said of the Chicago contest. “It’s a hard stretch for us, a lot of games in a short stretch of time so Saturday night at home with a day of rest, we came into the game feeling like it was pretty close to a must-win for us. Things were kind of starting to snowball the other way.”
Tied 1-1 after the first period, Toronto outscored Chicago 4-1 in the second to pull ahead for its first win in regulation time since Nov. 19, a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders.
The victory also snapped an eight-game losing streak to Chicago that dated back to February 2003.
Jerry D’Amigo, Nikolai Kulemin and Phil Kessel also scored for Toronto (17-14-3) before a season-high announced attendance of 19,603 at the Air Canada Center despite a cold, snowy night.
“You guys can’t see it but I’m just going crazy inside here now,” said D’Amigo.
Here is video of his goal: http://video.mapleleafs.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=802&id=511079&lang=en
Toronto outshot the opposition for just the fifth time this season, holding a 32-28 edge on the night.
The Blackhawks had arrived riding a three-game win streak during which they had outscored the opposition 19-6. The Hawks were also 9-0-2 against Eastern Conference opposition.
“We were not very good,” said Chicago coach Joel Quenneville. “They were much better than us. We got what we deserved tonight. We still got ourselves back in the game, 1-1 at the start of the second period and put ourselves in a decent spot…. But basically we got what we deserved because we weren’t ready to play.”