Tue, Oct 09, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Maple Leafs beat Blackhawks 7-6


After John Tavares went off and Auston Matthews and Patrick Kane staged a memorable duel, Morgan Rielly got the last word on a wild night.

Rielly on Sunday scored 19 seconds into overtime and Tavares had three goals as the Toronto Maple Leafs spoiled Chicago’s home opener with a 7-6 victory over the Blackhawks.

“Top to bottom we had contribution everywhere,” Tavares said.

Matthews had two goals and two assists for Toronto.

Rielly also had two assists, and Kasperi Kapanen finished with a goal and an assist, helping the Maple Leafs bounce back from Saturday night’s 5-3 loss to Ottawa.

Garret Sparks, who is from the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst, made 25 saves to get the win in his first NHL game since 2016.

“I went up against my childhood heroes tonight and there’s nothing cooler than that,” the 25-year-old said.

Chicago were looking for their first 3-0 start since the 2012-2013 season, but were unable to clamp down on Toronto’s high-scoring lines.

Kane scored twice in the final two minutes of regulation, and Duncan Keith and Henri Jokiharju each had three assists.

“It was a pretty crazy game,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “The quality of chances, the quantity of goals, the way it ended was a different level of unpredictability.”

It was Tavares’ first hat-trick since he agreed to a US$77 million, seven-year contract with Toronto in July, choosing his hometown team over several other suitors in free agency.

“[I] want to be as consistent as I can, so I prepare myself and expect a lot of myself on a nightly basis, with and without the puck,” Tavares said.

Tavares’ last goal made it 5-4 midway through the third period, but the Maple Leafs and Blackhawks were just getting started.

Especially Matthews and Kane.

Kane tied it again from a bad angle with 1 minute, 24 seconds remaining, shooting it past a screened Sparks. Then Matthews put the Maple Leafs back in front just 22 seconds later, beating Cam Ward from between the circles.

With the third period winding down, Kane was not done quite yet. He one-timed a big slap-shot by Sparks with 29 seconds left.

Rielly closed it out quickly in overtime, sending a low wrist-shot past Ward on the glove side.

“Obviously, a strange night with the way it finished,” he said. “We don’t want to be in those games too often, but obviously we’re happy with the outcome.”

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