Maple Leafs overcome late collapse, win thrilling Centennial Classic

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If the Toronto Maple Leafs current rebuild results in a contending team in the near future Auston Matthews, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft, is going to be one of the biggest players responsible for the turnaround.

He is every bit as good as advertised, and has already proven to be a game-changing player. On Sunday, the Maple Leafs needed him to be as he was one of the biggest reasons they were able to avoid what could have been a crushing defeat in the Centennial Classic against the Detroit Red Wings.

He scored his second goal of the game — and already his 20th of the season in only 36 games — in overtime to lift the Maple Leafs to a 5-4 win in what might have been one of the best and most exciting outdoor games since the league started playing them nearly 10 years ago.

Thanks to a four-goal outburst early in the third period the Maple Leafs looked to be on their way to an easy win with less than seven minutes to play in regulation.

But they did not make it that easy on themselves.

Jonathan Ericsson‘s goal at the 13:54 mark of the third period helped spark a Red Wings rally that saw them score three goals in the final six minutes of regulation, including a controversial buzzer beater from Anthony Mantha with 1.1 seconds to play to send the game to overtime.

The play not only had to be reviewed to make sure there was enough time remaining on the clock, but also for potential goaltender interference as Maple Leafs goalie Frederick Andersen was bumped into by Thomas Vanek. But after review the on-ice officials determined that there was no interference and allowed the goal to stand.

Here is a look at the play that forced overtime.

It was during the 3-on-3 overtime that Matthews ended up scoring the winner when he beat Red Wings goalie Jared Coreau with a backhander just under the crossbar to give the Maple Leafs two massive points in the standings and continue their push for a playoff spot.

The win extends the Maple Leafs’ winning streak to five games.

With wins in six of their past seven games are now just three points out of a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division with still three games in hand on the Boston Bruins.

The late rally helped the Red Wings at least gain a point in the standings but they remain seven points out of a playoff spot with several teams ahead of them, putting their run of consecutive postseason appearances in jeopardy.

The Buzzer: Kempe, Schwartz record hat tricks; Leafs honor Gord Downie

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Players of the night: Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues / Adrian Kempe, Los Angeles Kings

The Blues forward tallied his third career hat trick during a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Schwartz scored the game’s first two goals before completing his hat trick with a late empty-net goal to stave off a Chicago comeback.

Wednesday’s feat for Schwartz came three years to the day of his first career three-goal game.

Kempe, meanwhile, tallied his first NHL hat trick and finished with four points during LA’s 5-1 rout of the Montreal Canadiens. Two of his three goals were assisted by Mike Cammalleri, who also finished the night with four points.

Highlight of the night:

Eddie Olczyk returned to the NBC broadcast booth as he continues his battle against colon cancer. Olczyk, along with Doc Emrick, called the Blues-Blackhawks game from Scottrade Center Wednesday night.

MISC:

Auston Matthews recorded the 20th multi-point game of his career. He now has six goals and 10 points on the season.

Patrick Marleau became the 18th NHL player to reach the 1,500-game mark.

Jake Allen kept his shutout bid alive with this great stick save on Patrick Kane late:

-The Kings are off their best start in franchise history at 5-0-1. They’ve allowed only 10 goals against through six games.

Jeff Carter left the game in the first period and did not return after tangling with Jeff Petry. Afterward, Kings head coach John Stevens said the forward will miss some time.

-Finally, The Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie passed away from cancer at age 53 on Wednesday. The Maple Leafs paid tribute before their game against the Red Wings.

Factoid of the night:

Scores:

Maple Leafs 6, Red Wings 3

Blues 5, Blackhawks 2

Kings 5, Canadiens 1

Cammalleri, Kempe power Kings over Canadiens

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Adrian Kempe recorded his first career NHL hat trick and Mike Cammalleri added two goals as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-1.

After Paul Byron opened the scoring for Montreal midway through the first period, the Kings responded with five unanswered goals to hand the Habs their sixth straight defeat.

Cammalleri, who inked a one-year deal over the summer to return to the Kings, had a hand in four of LA’s five goals. He started the scoring for the Kings in the first period by celebrating the Dodgers’ playoff run with his own special kind of baseball swing.

Kempe, who finished with four points as well, scored his three goals over a span of 10:50 in the third period to help the Kings to their best start in franchise history (5-0-1).

LA remains the only NHL team yet to lose in regulation this season.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Jaden Schwartz’s hat trick leads Blues over Blackhawks

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Jaden Schwartz‘s third career hat trick helped power the St. Louis Blues over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 in a Central Division clash Wednesday night at Scottrade Center.

Schwartz’s eventful evening began with a goal 4:46 into the first period. It was nearly ended minutes later after a scary crash into the end boards following a scoring chance.

After missing some time, Schwartz returned in the second period and doubled the Blues’ lead with his fourth of a season, thanks to a great outlet pass from Allen.

As the Blues built up a 4-0 lead, the Blackhawks spoiled Allen’s shutout bid with a pair of late power play goals 80 seconds apart. The furious rally was stopped, however, and Schwartz capped off his hat trick with an empty netter to put the game out of reach.

St. Louis dominated the first two periods, outshooting the Blackhawks 26-8 as they built up their 2-0 lead. The Blackhawks’ power play failed them early in the game, missing out on five chances to capitalize with the extra man through 40 minutes.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: Canadiens at Kings

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The Montreal Canadiens play their second game of a three-game west coast trip Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

It hasn’t been the best start for the Habs, who sit tied for last in the Eastern Conference with a 1-4-1 record. They’re winless since an opening night win over the Buffalo Sabres. On the other side of things, the Kings are the only NHL team that has yet to lose in regulation. Their 4-0-1 start puts them a point behind the Vegas Golden Knights, and their game in-hand gives them the opportunity to leap into first place in the Pacific Division with a victory.

You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (10:30 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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