October 10, 2017 / 2:21 AM / 9 months ago

Matthews scores in OT as Leafs tip Blackhawks

Matthews scores in OT as Leafs tip Blackhawks

TORONTO — The Chicago Blackhawks thought they were in a good position when they took a two-goal lead nearly eight minutes into the third period on Monday night.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, however, were not finished.

Goals by Connor Brown and James van Riemsdyk tied the game at 3, and Auston Matthews scored in overtime to give the Maple Leafs a 4-3 victory.

“This was a big game for us as far as who we were up against and our first two games (7-2 and 8-5 wins) being ‘shootouts,’ so this was a real hockey game for us tonight,” Matthews said. “I thought we showed a lot of poise and we were able to crawl back into it and win it in overtime, so it’s exactly the start we wanted. So, pretty solid start for us — just want to keep the momentum going.”

It was the third win in a row to open the season for the Maple Leafs and the first loss in three games for the Blackhawks. Each team had scored 15 goals in its first two games.

Chicago scored two first-period goals and looked as if it could escape with the win despite constant pressure by Toronto from the second period on.

“In the second period, we lost a lot of momentum there,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “We were fortunate to come out with the lead. At 3-1, we were in a pretty good spot. We just didn’t get the job done. They’re fast, they’re quick. You have to make a lot of indirect plays with pressure, and I thought we did a good job of starting like that.”

Richard Panik scored his third goal of the season at 7:52 of the third period on a power play to extend Chicago’s lead to 3-1. A shot by defenseman Gustav Forsling took a fortunate bounce off the end boards to Panik.

The Maple Leafs (3-0-0) came back behind the first goal of the season by Brown at 13:00. Brown also had an assist in the game. James van Riemsdyk scored his second of the season on a deflection during a power play at 15:42 to tie the game.

Matthews scored his second goal of the season unassisted at 3:43 of overtime.

“Two-on-one, it was a close call on the offsides they called earlier, so just got in and tried to fake a pass a little bit, get (Chicago goaltender Anton Forsberg) leaning one way, and snuck it by him,” Matthews said.

“There’s not too many guys with the skill level that (Matthews) has, and late in the game, we gave him one too many chances,” said Chicago center Jonathan Toews, who scored his second goal of the season in the first period. “And he’s the type of player who’s going to make you pay. He’s good at finding the soft areas.”

Jan Rutta the other first-period goal for the Blackhawks (2-0-1). The defenseman also had an assist, as did Panik.

Nikita Zaitsev also scored a goal and had an assist for Toronto.

Forsberg made 39 stops in his Blackhawks debut. He was obtained in an offseason trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“We got that 3-1 lead and felt like we could relax a little bit, and they kept coming,” Forsberg said. “It’s tough, but we’ve got to be happy with one point. They played good. They have some skill guys that made some good plays. It was a tough game; good to get a lot or shots, though. I felt pretty comfortable out there.”

Frederik Andersen made 18 saves in the Toronto goal.

“They were better than us early, obviously,” Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “Better sticks, better defensively, worked harder, were quicker than us — we were too slow early — but I thought we got engaged and we’ve got a pretty deep group so we were able to come at them pretty good. I thought their goaltender played good and our guy was able to make some big saves.”

The Blackhawks led 1-0 at 3:46 of the first period after Rutta notched his second goal of the season when the puck slipped between the left post and Andersen on a wrap-around.

Toews doubled the lead at 7:57 of the first, blasting the rebound from Panik’s shot.

The Maple Leafs applied pressure in the middle of the second period and were rewarded with the second goal of the season by Zaitsev on a shot from the right circle at 10:20.

NOTES: Chicago C Nick Schmaltz (upper body injury) is expected to be out until Thursday after being hurt in the first period Saturday. ... With G Anton Forsberg making his Blackhawks debut Monday, G Corey Crawford will start Tuesday against the Canadiens in Montreal, his hometown. ... Maple Leafs D Connor Carrick (upper-body injury) did not dress for the game Monday after missing practice on Sunday. ... Maple Leafs C Dominic Moore, who scored a goal Saturday, did not play Monday. C Eric Fehr returned after missing the Saturday game. ... The Maple Leafs play host to the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday.

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