National Hockey League action on Wednesday evening and the Central Division will square off with the Atlantic Division as the Chicago Blackhawks grapple with the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario. The Blackhawks are off a 7-1 home win over the Coyotes, while the Leafs are off a 6-2 home loss to the Lightning.
Blackhawks Scalp The Coyotes
The Chicago Blackhawks are in last place in the Central Division and in 12th place in the Western Conference playoff standings, but they are far from out of playoff contention. The Blackhawks come in off a 7-1 home win over the Coyotes and they have now won their last three games in a row to move to within just five points of the 8th spot in the West. Chicago will now look to gain even more ground, but it won’t be easy as they have struggled on the road and the Leafs have been a good home team. The Blackhawks did fall behind the Coyotes 1-0 just 4:27 into the contest, but it was all Chicago after that. Leading their attack was Brendan Perlini, who notched a hat trick and now has 11 goals on the year. Brandon Saad (22nd), Chris Kunitz (3rd), Patrick Kane (41st), and Jonathan Toews (30th) also scored in the win.
Grabbing the win against the Coyotes was Corey Crawford, who stopped 24 of the 25 shots that he faced to improve to 10-17 with a 3.22 GAA on the year, while out on the road he has gone 3-10 with a 3.86 GAA. In his career, he has gone 3-1 with a 2.51 GAA against the Maple Leafs. The Blackhawks have gone 14-20 on the road and they have averaged 3.26 gpg and have allowed 3.88 gpg in those games. Chicago enters this game ranked 12th in the league in power play conversions at 20.9% and 31st in penalty kill at 73.3%.
Leafs Can’t Hang With The Bolts
The Toronto Maple Leafs should be ion the postseason this year and they had a chance to show the Lightning that they can make a run at the Stanley Cup, but alas, it was not meant to be as the Leafs fell at home to the Bolts by a score of 6-2. They could not hang with the best team in the league and are now 21 points out of first in the Atlantic Division. The Leafs do have a comfortable 10-point lead on the Blue Jackets and Canadiens, who are tied for the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference. The Leafs should make the postseason, but knocking off the Mighty Bolts may be a different story. Scoring in the loss to Tampa was Auston Matthews, which was his 31st of the year and Connor Brown, which was his 6th.
Absorbing the loss to the Lightning was Frederik Andersen, who allowed four goals on 19 shot attempts, before being removed in favor of Garret Sparks, who allowed two goals on 23 shot attempts. Andersen will get the nod in this one and he has gone 33-18 with a 2.62 GAA on the year, including 16-9 with a 2.53 GAA here at home. In his career, he has gone 3-5 with a 2.64 GAA against the Blackhawks. The Maple Leafs have gone 21-14 here at home and they have averaged 3.57 gpg and have allowed 2.80 gpg in those games. Toronto enters this game ranked 7th in the league in power play conversions at 22.5% and 17th in penalty kill at 80.3%.
- 9-2 in their last 11 in the third game of a 3-in-4 situation
- 24-11 in their last 35 vs. the Western Conference
- 9-21 in their last 30 in the third game of a 3-in-4 situation
- 13-40 in their last 53 games as a road underdog of +201 or greate