Blackhawks’ early offense is just enough to get a win over the Maple Leafs

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 13: Nikita Zaitsev #22 of the Toronto Maple Leafs battles for the puck against Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at the Scotiabank Arena on March 13, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

TORONTO – At the moment, it seemed like a goal that would pad the stats on an impressive offensive night for the Blackhawks.

With 7:28 left to go in the second period, Alex DeBrincat’s 38th goal of the year gave his team a 5-0 lead over the Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena. It was just part of a great start that appeared to have the Blackhawks easily on their way to a fourth-straight win.

As it turns out, that goal would end up the game-winner during an unusual finish to the game in Toronto on Wednesday night.

Up 5-1 after two periods, Corey Crawford left the game with an illness, and the Maple Leafs rallied for three more goals against backup Collin Delia. Yet the Blackhawks still had enough defense in the final 90 seconds to finish off a 5-4 win that was much more stressful than they might have thought coming into the final period.

No matter how it got done, however, the Blackhawks climbed to within four points of the last Wild Card spot with the victory. Right now it’s the Arizona Coyotes (75 points) that hold the last spot in the Western Conference playoffs.

Once again, the offense was the story and the savior for the Blackhawks on this day.

For the 19th time this season, the Blackhawks scored five-or-more goals in a game. It also marked the 50th-straight game that the team has gotten at least two or more goals in a game, dating all the way back to the loss to the Kings on November 16th. During this current winning streak, the Blackhawks have scored 19 combined goals, a little above the team’s average of 3.36 goals a game coming into Wednesday’s contest, which ranks 8th in the league.

Five different players came through for goals against the Maple Leafs, with four of those coming in an offensive first period. Duncan Keith, Brendan Perlini, Dominik Kahun, and Brandon Saad all notched scores in the opening 20 minutes, with DeBrincat adding the last one past the halfway point of the second period.

That appeared to be enough for Corey Crawford, who allowed just one goal on 18 shots on goal in the first two periods. But when illness forced him out, Delia was faced with a barrage of shots from the Maple Leafs, who put 29 on goal in the final 20 minutes. Two goals got by him midway through the period, and when John Tavares scored with 1:29 left, it was suddenly a one-goal game.

But Delia held up in the end to preserve the victory, one that relied on the offense once again.

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