Both a Family and the Original 6 Feuds lost in Chicago

Eduardo Harari
BarnBurner Sports Writer

@edharari

Monday, November 11, 2019


TORONTO. - The Leafs opened the evening match Marnerless and having watched just hours prior the defeat of Toronto FC at the hands of the Seattle Sounders in the MLS Cup.

The Maple Leafs played without star forward Mitch Marner after he suffered a right ankle sprain in the second period Saturday night in a 3-2 home loss Philadelphia. Marner underwent an MRI exam and will be out of the lineup for a minimum of four weeks.

No different than last night. I talked to Mitch a few times here today. Really disappointed for Mitch and disappointed for our hockey team. In saying that, someone else is going to get an opportunity. As a coach, we’re going to have to figure it out. We’ve got to get our lines… I mean, we had a different line for each period. We’ve got to get our lines right to maximize the group we have and get the right people in the right spots.

The 22-year-old Marner has four goals and 14 assists through 18 games. He led the Maple Leafs last season with career highs in points (94) and assists (68) and had a career-best 26 goals.

"Obviously, it's tough to hear that," Nylander said. "Hopefully, he'll have a speedy recovery and, yeah, I've got to step it up here and down the stretch."

The club announced on Sunday that Marner underwent an MRI exam on his injured ankle and will be out of the lineup for a minimum of four weeks.

This game was not only the continuation of the feud of the Original six of the NHL but now it also brings the family feud of the Nylander clan as William (Maple Leafs ) faced Alex (Black Hawks) entered the night wanting to settle the rivalry that started when Alex was with the Sabres.

“I’ve played against him twice before, and he’s won both of those games,” said Alex, who played against his brother in March of last season and in April 2017. William, the older brother by two years, had an assist in each game and Alex scored a goal in the most recent meeting.

“Looking here for revenge,” Alex said. "It’s going to be great. It’s always fun to play against my brother.”

Sunday night, Alex had a few friends in attendance, but he said most of the family would be watching from home in Sweden — with divided loyalties.

“They want us both” to win, he said. “They’re half Blackhawks, half Leafs in the family.”

Alex and the Blackhawks had the last laugh in this one, grabbing a 5-4 win.

Patrick Kane, Chicago’s offensive star, didn’t wait long to make his presence felt as he penetrated the Leafs zone with the assist of Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome to put the Blackhawks ahead by one just five minutes into the 1st period.

Toronto’s defense once again didn’t show up at the United Center as Kirby Dash would score in the twelfth minute and just 10 seconds later Patrick Cane would score his second of the night giving Chicago a commanding 3 – 0 lead.

The Leafs had a spark of life with 16:29 in the 1st period when Auston Matthews placed the puck for William Nylander’s 6th goal of the season. Babcock made this comment on Nylander’s scoring spree.

“I just think he is battling way harder, so he has the puck way more. You end up with more shots, and then you score a bit, and then you get more confidence. Now you’re hitting your spot and you take the time you need to hit your spot.”

But as usual the Leafs could not maintain the momentum going as Jake Muzzin gets sent to the penalty box for tripping and allowing Jonathan Toews the opportunity to score on the power-play. The period closed with the Leafs behind by 3 and a score of 4-1.

The 2nd period was a toss-up as both teams had their share of difficulties at both end of the ice with the score not changing.

The 3rd started with a series of mishaps for both teams but the Leafs William Nylander managed to capitalize on a Erik Gustafsson giveaway and scored his 2nd of the night and 7th of the season.

The period progressed as Toronto seemed to gain momentum and, on a power-play, Captain John Tavares scored assisted by Andreas Johnsson and Auston Matthews bringing the score with in 1 to 4 – 3.

Chicago wasn’t done yet scoring once more when Morgan Rielly surrender the puck and Brandon Saad took it for the 5th goal of the evening.

The Leafs would attempt a comeback when Andreas Johnsson score the 4th goal of the night for Toronto with 40 seconds to go in the 3rd.

The Blackhawks were outshot 26-7 in the third period.

"It was a tough one, but way to battle together and get the two points," Lehner said.

Robin Lehner made 53 saves including an Auston Matthews wrist shot in the last seconds of the game to save the win for Chicago.

"I mean, they're a great team," Lehner said. "We came out good and capitalized on our chances. They were pretty good in the first too. They're a good hockey team over there, and they started getting some momentum, they got the goal there, it's 4-2, of course they're going to get some life. Some of the best players in the world on that team, so I give our guys a lot of credit. We fought hard."

The Blackhawks were outshot 26-7 in the third period.

"Well, we didn't start very good obviously," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "They shot it in our net. We thought we competed way earlier than the third, but in the end, we didn't compete good enough to win. We had a lot of chances. Their goalie was solid, he made lots of saves. In saying that though, the first 10 minutes of the game wasn't good enough, so you spend the whole night battling."

Matthews described his frustration with the last two games in the post game scrums with the media.

"It's really frustrating. I think everyone in the locker room is frustrated," Matthews said. "I think it's just the mindset coming in, that first period we've got to be ready to play, it's got to come within each other, within the guys that lead this group and wear letters. We've got to be ready to go from puck drop."

With the injury to Marner, it has become a necessary evil to bring Zach Hyman as soon as possible. Mike Babcock its optimistic that he will have him soon.

“I thought we’d have Hyman back for a while, though. I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I think we are optimistic that he’ll get going. Now, it’s probably not going to be the Hyman we all know. Reasonably speaking, that is probably unfair. But we’d like to get him back, obviously.”

Babcock also commented on his team’s performance in consecutive game situations.

“We haven’t done a good enough job this year. That was our fifth one this year and obviously, we are 0-5 in these games. We’ve got one point, if I am not mistaken. We’ve got [14] back-to-backs this year. You’ve got to get points. You’ve got to play well. You’ve got to leave the rink feeling good. We’ve been on a real good run here feeling good about ourselves and starting to get our swagger back, and then obviously, we’ve got to get regrouped after today.”