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Huge third period lifts Blackhawks past Maple Leafs
The Blackhawks have developed into a team to be reckoned with now. At least that's what victories over Dallas, Colorado and Detroit twice show this season.
Saturday night they unveiled their new look north of the border as they took on the Toronto Maple Leafs in a game that was broadcast across the country on "Hockey Night in Canada."
The Hawks gave the upper portion of North America a taste of what's brewing in Chicago as they defeated the Maple Leafs 6-4 in front of 19,314 at the Air Canada Centre.
Robert Lang again had the big goal for the Blackhawks. With the game tied 3-3, the veteran center ripped a wrist shot from the top of the circle past Leafs goalie Andrew Raycroft, off the post and into the net for his fifth of the season at the 7:15 mark of the third period. Four of Lang's goals either have tied a game or have been game-winners.
"I pulled off a pretty good shot, and it kind of caught him off guard through a screen going one way and shooting the other way," Lang said. "It went in, and I'm happy as can be."
A minute later Patrick Sharp gave the Hawks a 5-3 lead when he tipped in a shot from Brent Sopel on the power play. The goal was Sharp's third of the season.
The Hawks' fifth victory in eight games was aided by four power-play goals and the six goals scored was a season high after the offense struggled the first six games.
"From Day One everybody had high hopes, and it has been kind of a good, upbeat atmosphere," Lang said. "You have to believe you can be good. You have to believe in yourself first, if you don't you're never going to get there. We're getting there now, the guys are starting to get confidence, the young guys are playing unbelievable and everything is sort of falling into place."
The Hawks took a 1-0 lead on the power play when Jonathan Toews took the puck to the net and it kicked out to Jason Williams who shot it past Raycroft. Toews earned his fourth assist of the season and fellow rookie Patrick Kane his seventh.
At the 7:43 mark, Mats Sundin picked up a gift when Hawks defenseman Andrei Zyuzin fell down at the blue line while the Hawks had a man advantage. Sundin picked up the puck, skated the length of the ice alone and beat Patrick Lalime with a backhand move to tie it 1-1.
Tomas Kaberle made it 2-1 in favor of the Maple Leafs with 2:52 remaining in the period when a Jason Blake shot hit off his skate and past Lalime.
Sundin struck again with 6:37 left in the second, giving the Leafs a 3-1 lead when he again beat Lalime with a backhander.
The Hawks began the third period with a two-man advantage after Alexei Ponikarovsky and Hal Gill were sent off late in the second period. They made it pay off when Kane sent a pass to Zyuzin between the circles and he fired it past Raycroft just after the first penalty expired.
Thirty seconds later Duncan Keith took a pass from fellow defenseman Sopel while at even strength and scored to tie it 3-3.
"My goal was definitely a nice play by Sopel and [Sergei] Samsonov," Keith said of his first goal of the season. "It was nice for me to give the team a little bit of a lift. It has been a bit of a theme this year: third-period comebacks."
Tuomo Ruutu capped the victory with his third goal of the season with the Leafs' net empty.
Lalime, giving starter Nikolai Khabibulin a night off, made 28 saves to record his second victory.