The Chicago Blackhawks have scored the most goals in the first two games of a season in franchise history and meet another team that has had no trouble offensively when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. The Blackhawks scored 10 in the opener against Pittsburgh and followed up with a 5-1 victory over Columbus on Saturday, while Toronto has matched them with 15 goals in two victories to begin the campaign.
“We’ve had some good pace to our team, and I think the guys are excited about their linemates and possibilities of scoring (and) making plays,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville told reporters. “We manage the puck without it the right way. Guys are doing a lot of good things with it.” Patrick Kane and Ryan Hartman have recorded six points apiece while Brandon Saad has scored four times in two games for the Blackhawks, who have managed to tally just once on the power play. The Maple Leafs scored seven times in their season-opening win over Winnipeg but squandered a four-goal lead Saturday before netting the final three tallies en route to an 8-5 victory over the New York Rangers. “It’s kind of fun, eh?” Toronto coach Mike Babcock told reporters. “Nah, it’s dumb. We had a lot of guys take their turn at turning (the puck) over and being silly and doing crazy things. Saying all that, we also had a lot of guys play real hard at times and do things right.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NHL Network, NBCSN Chicago, TSN4 (Toronto)
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (2-0-0): While the offense is grabbing all the headlines, Chicago has allowed just one goal in each of the first two games and Corey Crawford has been sharp, turning aside 60-of-62 shots. “I know we scored a ton of goals, but our (defense) has been great moving the puck up, getting in the rush, ending plays quick in our zone,” Crawford told reporters. “Every aspect of our game right now is looking good. We just have to keep that momentum going.” Quenneville has been impressed by the play of 27-year-old defenseman Jan Rutta, who has posted a plus-7 rating and scored his first NHL goal on Saturday.
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (2-0-0): Toronto has spread the scoring around as centers Nazem Kadri and Auston Matthews lead the way with four points apiece while its power play has been lethal, scoring on five of its 10 opportunities. Patrick Marleau has been comfortable with his new team, scoring twice in the opener before assisting on a power-play goal against the Rangers, while Zach Hyman netted a pair of tallies on Saturday. Dominic Moore began his second stint with the Maple Leafs by winning all nine of his faceoffs and scoring a goal in Saturday’s victory after replacing Eric Fehr in the lineup.
1. Chicago C Nick Schmaltz (upper body), who had recorded two goals and an assist in his first two games, was not expected to make the trip.
2. Toronto C Tyler Bozak has notched three points in his first two contests and needs one assist to reach 200 for his career.
3. The Blackhawks have won the last five meetings but needed overtime and a shootout to capture both last season.
PREDICTION: Maple Leafs 5, Blackhawks 4