You have to love the first couple of weeks of the NHL season when everybody forgets how to play defense and the goalies aren’t yet up to their peak performance. So far this season we have been treated to some wild games, and the wildest of the bunch may have taken place in Chicago on Sunday night were the Maple Leafs were 7-6 overtime winners against the Blackhawks.
This game had everything.
A few of the highlights…
— After Chicago raced out to an early 2-0 lead (with another strong early season showing form Jonathan Toews leading the way), John Tavares scored three goals to record his first hat trick as a member of the Maple Leafs, with his third goal giving his team a 5-4 lead midway through the third period.
At the time it looked like that goal might be enough to give his team the win. While it certainly contributed it was not the game-winner because after he scored that is when all heck broke loose.
— Over the final 85 seconds of regulation the two teams combined to score three goals, with Patrick Kane starting the madness with a game-tying goal (with the Blackhawks’ net empty for the extra attacker) with just 1:24 to play.
That goal was quickly answered (only 22 seconds later to be exact) by Auston Matthews, scoring his fifth goal of the season and second of the game, to help Toronto regain the lead. With their performances on Sunday it means Tavares and Matthews have now combined to score nine of the Maple Leafs’ first 13 goals this season. This particular goal from Matthews resulted in a pretty great celebration as he taunted the United Center crowd.
But this game was far from over!
Just 33 seconds after that Kane responded with yet another game-tying goal in the final two minutes of regulation, and he made sure to return the favor to Matthews by mimicking his celebration.
— Once the two teams made it to overtime they did not need much time to decide a winner with Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Reilly scoring the game-winner just 19 seconds in … and it was a terrible goal for Cam Ward to give up.
— The one thing this game did not have, obviously, was defense and goaltending and there was perhaps no better way to illustrate that than the fact that Toronto’s Garret Sparks not only got the win, but also had the best save percentage out of the two starting goalies … at .806. That is brutal. Chicago’s Cam Ward managed only a .794 mark and continued what has been a miserable start to the season as he attempts to fill in for Corey Crawford. The experiment is not going well.