It’s too bad the Blackhawks didn’t score five goals again Monday because they needed them in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Maple Leafs. The team blew a 3-1 lead in the third period, then Auston Matthews sniped the game-winner on a 2-on-1 against Gustav Forsling to wrap up the night.
The Hawks got ahead early then went into a shell for the rest of the game. A stark contrast from keeping the pedal down to score 10 goals, indeed. The scoring didn’t continue this time around, so it was on the defense and backup goalie Anton Forsberg to hang on for dear life.
And by that, we mainly mean Forsberg had to deliver a fantastic Blackhawks debut for the team to have a chance to win. Toronto outshot Chicago, 43-21, including a dominant 19-6 second period. If it wasn’t for Forsberg playing so well in his first game with the team, this would’ve been a blowout.
There’s really no need for a recap beyond this tweet, to be honest.
Even strength shot attempts after the first period tonight:— James Mirtle (@mirtle) October 10, 2017
There were still some highs, including a strong effort by the Saad-Toews-Panik line and Jan Rutta’s second goal of the season, but this was a game where the Hawks got exposed a bit.
CHI GOALS: Rutta (2), Toews (2), Panik (3)
TOR GOALS: Zaitsev (2), Brown (1), van Riemsdyk (2), Matthews (2)
Anton Forsberg looks ready to be the backup
One of the big question marks for the Blackhawks all summer was whether the team would find a suitable replacement for Scott Darling. All signs pointed to Forsberg, the young goalie acquired as part of the Artemi Panarin trade, but he had struggled in limited NHL duty during his time with the Blue Jackets.
So far, so good for Forsberg, who looked strong most of the game against the Maple Leafs with 39 saves on 43 shots on goal. He was nimble between the pipes and did a good job of limiting juicy rebounds. At one point, the game bounced between power plays, and Forsberg was the main reason Toronto didn’t score.
Yes, he fell apart late as the Maple Leafs’ attack didn’t relent, but that’s more on the defense than Forsberg.
Nick Schmaltz, come back soon. Very soon. Please.
The second line of Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman, and Patrick Kane was stupid good in the first two games. Artem Anisimov stepped up to replace Schmaltz with that group against Toronto, and, well, it simply was not the same. To be blunt, they got pushed around.
These numbers, via Natural Stat Trick, are ugly:
Richard Panik’s nose for the net was no fluke
Panik scored a career-high 22 goals last season, which convinced the Blackhawks to re-sign him to a two-year deal with a $2.8 million cap hit. The message there was clear: They believed Panik was the real deal, and his breakout year was far from a fluke. Otherwise, they would’ve traded the guy when he was an RFA.
Three games into his second full season with the team, Panik is making the Blackhawks’ bet on him look good. He’s scored a goal in each of the first three games of the season, and has five points total. His physicality and shooting on one wing, with Brandon Saad’s power-speed combo on the other, is proving to be a dangerous mix.
- Auston Matthews (TOR) — 1 goal, 6 shots on goal
- Nikita Zaitsev (TOR) — 1 goal, 1 assist
- Jan Rutta (CHI) — 1 goal, 1 assist