Maple Leafs Vs. Blackhawks: Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane Lead Chicago Back To The Win Column

Feb 29, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) shoots the puck against Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonas Gustavsson (50) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

Defense was optional in the first period between the two struggling original six franchises, but a goaltending change for the Blackhawks provided the boost to carry them to a 5-4 victory for the first time in four games.

With both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks in the grip of losing streaks, the matchup was a key opportunity for each to climb back into the playoff hunt in their respective conferences.

With Toronto giving starter James Reimer a break for Jonas Gustavsson, the Blackhawks stuck with Corey Crawford despite the netminder being pulled in his last two starts.

The Maple Leafs would open the scoring in the first minute of the game when Tyler Bozak cut around from the side of the net and jammed the puck through Crawford's legs.

Chicago would respond midway through the period on a wrist shot from the near boards, but Toronto responded almost immediately on the power play, retaking the lead on a redirection by Joffrey Lupul in front of the net.

Clarke MacArthur would add to the Toronto lead, but the Blackhawks closed the gap once again when Marcus Kruger tipped a shot from Nick Leddy with under 30 seconds to go in the first period.

After the offensive explosion through the first 20 minutes, Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville made the decision to pull Crawford in favor of Ray Emery for the second period, and his team responded by pushing the Toronto offense to the perimeter, while Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa both found the back of the net.

Though young Toronto defenseman Luke Schenn would drop the gloves late in the second period in an attempt to fire up his team, there would be no recovery from their sudden collapse. With Gustavsson called to the bench for an extra attacker late in the third period, Marian Hossa would score his second goal of the evening into an empty net, sealing the win, though Toronto grinder Mike Brown would manage to poke one goal past Emery just before the end of regulation.

The win placed the Blackhawks four points clear of the playoff bar in the West, while Toronto's skid extends to 1-9-1 over their past 11 games, and leaves them four points behind Washington for the final playoff spot in the Eastern conference as the movement among Leafs fans to fire Ron Wilson continues to build steam.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.