Toronto Maple Leafs

Blackhawks finish 'tough' homestand with overtime loss to Maple Leafs

Blackhawks finish 'tough' homestand with overtime loss to Maple Leafs

Now until the end of the season, the Blackhawks are in must-win territory if they have any shot at making the playoffs.

On Wednesday night, they picked up one point but not the other in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the United Center.

The Blackhawks finished their six-game homestand with a 1-4-1 record, picking up three out of a possible 12 points, and are now six points behind a wild card spot.

"It was a tough homestand when you look at it points-wise, games that were valuable situations as far as keeping us in the race and now we put ourselves in a tremendous hole," coach Joel Quenneville said after the game.

Among the good on Wednesday?

The Blackhawks went 2-for-4 on the power play after going 0-for-16 in their previous five games. Brent Seabrook and Nick Schmaltz scored for the home team.

Jeff Glass also did his part, stopping 33 of 36 shots. The game-winner came by William Nylander, who scored six seconds into overtime on a penalty shot.

Maybe getting away from home will be a good thing?

The Blackhawks' next four games will come on the road, beginning on Thursday night against the Detroit Red Wings, which you can watch on NBC Sports Chicago.

"There’s time to get on a run, to get excited, and then go from there," Quenneville said.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime loss to Maple Leafs

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USA TODAY

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime loss to Maple Leafs

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night:

1. Anton Forsberg stands on his head.

Due to Corey Crawford's remarkable numbers against Montreal, Joel Quenneville elected to go with Forsberg between the pipes in Toronto and it turned out to be a solid decision despite the overall result.

He stopped 39 of 43 shots (.906 save percentage) in his official team debut, and essentially stole a point for the Blackhawks, who were outshot 43-21. The only blemish was a soft goal he allowed on Toronto's first goal of the game, when Nikita Zaitsev slipped a shot past Forsberg's five-hole.

Other than that, he picked up exactly where he left off in preseason.

2. Saad-Toews-Panik line continues to impress.

We're already running out of things to say about this trio. They've been one of the best lines in hockey to open the season, and they were far and away the best line for the Blackhawks in this one again.

Jonathan Toews scored his second goal in as many games, which was assisted by linemates Richard Panik and Brandon Saad, that gave the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead in the first period. Panik added a power play goal in the third, giving the three of them a combined nine goals and six assists through three games.

They were also the only three players on the Blackhawks to finish with positive even-strength possession numbers against a Maple Leafs club that absolutely dominated in that area.

3. Nick Schmaltz's absence felt.

The Blackhawks got away with not having their second-line center in Saturday's game against Columbus, but they couldn't overcome it Monday.

Patrick Kane (minus-25 Corsi), Ryan Hartman (minus-20) and Artem Anisimov (minus-18) had the worst even-strength possession numbers among all skaters, and were all held pointless.

Schmaltz is a huge part of this Blackhawks team. His speed changes the way that line plays, and his absence is magnified when he's not in there because it puts more offensive responsibility on the bottom six centers who have a defense-first mentality and are pushed up into the lineup.

4. Forsling-Rutta pairing strong again.

The Blackhawks spent a lot of time in their own end, but Gustav Forsling and Jan Rutta had to be the best pairing in the loss.

Rutta scored a goal for the second straight game, and added an assist later on for his first multi-point game in the NHL. He now has two goals and two assists during his three-game point streak.

Forsling has also recorded a point in three consecutive games, all of which have been assists. He slapshotted a perfect pass off the end boards that ricocheted right to Panik, who buried home Chicago's third goal. Forsling finished with five shot attempts, tied for the team lead with a pair of blocked shots and logged 16:23 of ice time, 3:26 of which came on the penalty kill.

5. Busy evening for special teams.

There were 13 penalties committed between the two teams, leading to plenty of whistles and man advantages.

The Blackhawks had six power-play opportunities and cashed in on one of them, while the Maple Leafs also converted on one of their eight chances. Toronto has scored a power play goal in each of its first three games, and lead the league with a 37.5 percent success rate.

And it probably could've added one or two more if it weren't for Forsberg's strong play in net.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Maple Leafs

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Maple Leafs

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Who will step up in Nick Schmaltz's absence?

The Blackhawks will likely be without Schmaltz (upper-body injury) during their mini two-game road trip in Canada, meaning they'll have a gap to fill at the second-line center position. Given his familiarity with Patrick Kane from the previous two seasons, Artem Anisimov is the obvious candidate to step into that role.

But the bottom six gets dicey after that. Tanner Kero, who missed Saturday's game with an injury, will probably return to the lineup and perhaps may move up to center the third line alongside Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Sharp, with Tommy Wingels staying on the fourth in between Lance Bouma and John Hayden.

It will certainly need to be a collective effort though to replace what Schmaltz brings to the table offensively.

2. Two high-powered offenses.

Nobody has scored more goals through two games than the Blackhawks and Maple Leafs, both of whom lead the league with 15 goals. In fact, the third-highest scoring team is Washington with 11.

There's fire power all over the ice, and it's a fun early matchup between a team that has three Stanley Cups in the salary cap era and a team that could become a powerhouse over the next decade.

Which offense will slow down first?

3. Third line could be difference.

What has made these two teams dangerous in the early going is their ability to score from anywhere up and down the lineup. The Maple Leafs' third line, particularly, of Patrick Marleau, Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov has combined for five goals and five assists.

The Blackhawk's top six has dominated in two games, but they'll need help from their bottom six to stay in the win column, especially with Schmaltz out.