Patrick Kane scored a goal and dished out two assists, and Antti Raanta notched his second shutout of the season as the Chicago Blackhawks knocked off the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 4-0 on Sunday night.
Kris Versteeg, Jonathan Toews and David Rundblad also scored goals for the Blackhawks, who played with heavy hearts following the passing of assistant equipment manager Clint Reif.
The game got off to an uninspiring start for the Blackhawks as Brent Seabrook was sent off for high-sticking less than two minutes into the game. The Maple Leafs’ power play, ranked ninth in the league coming into the game, wasn’t able to get much going on the man-advantage as the Hawks’ penalty killers did a nice job to dodge the early threat.
Both teams seemed to struggle at times in the middle stages of the period to establish momentum, but it took until the five-minute mark for the Hawks to really grab a hold of the game. On a good possession in the zone, Patrick Sharp drifted to the front of the net, planting himself directly in front of Toronto goaltender James Reimer. Rundblad saw that the goaltender was screened, and he ripped a slapshot past Reimer and inside the near post to give Chicago a 1-0 lead.
It appeared that the Hawks would go into the intermission with a one-goal lead, but Versteeg had other ideas. Kane made a nice play on a 2-on-1 rush into the zone as time wound down, but his pass drifted out just a bit in front of Versteeg. The winger somehow managed to kick the puck onto his stick while on the move, and his wrist shot went past Reimer and into the net with less than a half second on the clock to give the Hawks a two-goal advantage at the break.
The Blackhawks continued their solid work on offense thanks to good efforts from the first and fourth lines, but Reimer made a couple of key saves to keep his team within shouting distance. Brandon Saad looked especially potent in the early going, but two straight redirection attempts skipped just past the net.
Slowly but surely the Leafs began to fire away at the Hawks’ net, but Raanta made some key saves. Morgan Rielly had one of the best chances of the bunch, but Raanta kicked all the way across the crease to make the save. Daniel Winnik also had a chance on a redirection in front, but the puck sailed just over the crossbar to keep Chicago in front.
Toronto also came close to getting a goal back late in the period, with Jake Gardiner firing a shot in from the point. The puck ended up bouncing off Mike Santorelli and evaded Raanta, but it bounced off the far post and stayed out of the net to keep the Hawks ahead by two goals through two periods.
The third period started out with the Leafs generating a good number of scoring chances, and they ultimately got the first five shots on goal in the period. That momentum led to a power play as Versteeg was sent off for interference, but despite a really nice shot by Gardiner through traffic the Hawks maintained the shutout.
Right after the Hawks killed off the power play, they got one of their own and quickly took advantage of the chance. Toews made a nice play while falling to the ice to keep possession, and he forced a pass to Brent Seabrook. The defenseman wired in a slap shot toward the net, and after it hit traffic in front Kane scooped up the puck and flipped it into the net to make it a 3-0 game.
Just a few moments later, the Blackhawks scored another goal. Toews brought the puck into the zone, and when his passing lanes didn’t open up on the rush, he muscled a shot in between Reimer’s arm and his body, and it drove into the goal to put Chicago up by four goals.
The Blackhawks will hit the ice again Tuesday night for their final game before the holiday break as they take on the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center.