Kampf turns lucky bounce into late winner, Leafs escape with victory over Blackhawks


Published December 11, 2021 at 9:47 pm

TORONTO — A lucky bounce off the end boards to centre David Kampf with 80 seconds left on the clock allowed the Toronto Maple Leafs to escape with a 5-4 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.

As Chicago goalie Kevin Lankinen went behind his net to stop Morgan Rielly’s shoot-in, the puck caromed to Kampf for an easy game-winner against his old team. Lankinen gave up five goals on 26 shots.

The Maple Leafs (19-8-2) blew a 4-1 lead they had built up early in the second period. But they fired only three shots on goal in the middle 20 minutes, and Chicago (10-15-2) cut into the lead near the end of the second period.

Then Dominik Kubalik scored early in the third period, and Jake McCabe drifted a screen drive with 9:18 remaining in regulation time.

William Nylander scored once and assisted on two others, while John Tavares and Auston Matthews each chipped in a goal and an assist as the Maple Leafs won for just the second time in five outings without injured forward Mitch Marner.

Marner (shoulder), Jason Spezza (suspension), Travis Dermott (shoulder) and Rasmus Sandin (knee) missed the victory before 18,934 at Scotiabank Arena.

Petr Mrazek was solid in goal. He made his first start since being sidelined with a groin injury on Oct. 30.

Mrazek made 31 saves as the visitors outshot the Maple Leafs 35-26. His most crucial stop arrived five minutes into the final frame when he closed his pads on Patrick Kane’s breakaway five-hole attempt to keep Toronto in front by a goal.

Blackhawks interim head coach Derek King made his first appearance behind an NHL bench in Toronto. He scored 45 goals in 161 games for the Maple Leafs in the late 1990s.

The Hamilton, Ont., native also spent six seasons as an assistant coach with the AHL Toronto Marlies before moving to the Blackhawks organization.

King’s team grabbed an early 1-0 lead when Maple Leafs rookie defenceman Kristians Rubins got caught on a pinch, and his teammates were slow to cover for him.

The result was an ice-breaker from Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, his second, off the rush. It took him 26 games to score his first goal of the campaign in Montreal on Thursday after missing the entire 2020-21 season with chronic immune response syndrome.

The Maple Leafs then struck for three goals, two on the power play, to earn a 3-1 lead after the first period.

Tavares scored on a soft wrist shot Lankinen misplayed on the power play. Nylander went unchecked by Blackhawks centre Kirby Dach to knock in a pass from behind the goal line from Tavares.

Matthews deposited a pass from Ondrej Kase on the power play to make it 3-1. After his two-goal outing against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, Kase was elevated to the right side of Matthews on the top line.

The fourth line increased Toronto’s lead to 4-1 early in the second period on a wrist shot from Pierre Engvall. Rookie Alex Steeves picked up the second assist on the goal for his first career point in his third game.

Chicago defencemen Connor Murphy scored on a wrist shot off Mrazek, 10 seconds after an interference penalty to Toronto’s Michael Bunting had expired.

Early in the third period, Chicago forward Philipp Kurashev outraced two Toronto defenders to slap the puck to a wide-open Kubalik to pull the Blackhawks to within 4-3.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 11, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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