|CHI||0||2||2||1||(0 - 0)||5|
|TOR||1||3||0||0||(0 - 0)||4|
TORONTO (CP) -It was the kind of night in which the Toronto Maple Leafs could have used Wendel Clark's leadership.
They looked every bit like a rebuilding team after taking a three-goal lead over the Chicago Blackhawks, but they let it slip away on a special Saturday night at Air Canada Centre.
While there was no hint of stage fright after watching Clark's No. 17 raised to the rafters before the game, the signs of inexperience started to show in the third period.
That's when Toronto squandered a two-goal lead, setting the stage for David Bolland's overtime goal that gave Chicago a 5-4 victory.
"We definitely would like that third period back," Leafs forward Matt Stajan said. "What can you say? Kudos to them, they outplayed us that whole period. I don't think it's a secret."
It was the sixth time in 20 games Toronto held a lead heading into the final period. Once Chicago turned up the pressure and pushed hard for a comeback, the Leafs lost control.
"They just kept coming and coming and coming," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "The outcome was inevitable. We weren't supporting the puck, we got way too far ahead of our (defense)."
The Maple Leafs wore patches with Clark's number on their jerseys, and many among the sellout crowd of 19,474 sported stick-on handlebar mustaches like the former forward's.
Clark became a fan favorite in the 1980's when he was the best player on poor Maple Leafs teams. While the franchise is in the midst of retooling again, there seems to be much more optimism two decades later.
Stajan has been one player who has benefited from getting more opportunities this season. In addition to leading Leafs forwards in ice time Saturday, he had a goal and an assist to push his point total to 19 in 19 games. With three-quarters of the season remaining, the 24-year-old forward is already within 20 points of his career best.
Stajan grew up in nearby Mississauga and seemed particularly moved to be part of the ceremony for Clark.
"You get the shivers there on the blue line when you see something like that," Stajan said.
Bolland is another local product who was thrilled after scoring the winner in front of more than 50 family and friends. It was just the seventh career NHL goal for the former first-round draft pick, who is coming into his own on a very talented Blackhawks team.
After taking a nice pass from point man Duncan Keith, he skated around Leafs defenseman Jeff Finger and beat Vesa Toskala 49 seconds into overtime.
"I just took one step (into the slot) and it was a wide-open cage for me," Bolland said.
"He made a great play on the goal to tie it and a special play on the overtime move," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "His overall game is very effective, and (it was) a great finish to today's game. That's what he's capable of."
Patrick Sharp had two goals, and Patrick Kane and Ben Eager also scored for the Blackhawks (10-4-5).
Pavel Kubina, Matt Stajan, Dominic Moore, Alexei Ponikarovsky had Toronto's goals.
Kubina opened the scoring at 17:37 of the first period with a knuckleball shot that sailed high over Nikolai Khabibulin.
Stajan had a chance to extend the lead on a penalty shot after he was hauled down with 8.7 seconds left in the period, but Khabibulin got his pad on the backhand deke attempt.
Stajan did score his sixth goal of the season at 3:23 of the second after taking a nice touch pass while skating through the offensive zone and backhanding the puck behind Khabibulin.
It looked as though the romp might be on when Moore's nifty backhander made it 3-0, but Sharp responded with a pair of goals 2:20 apart. He tipped Keith's point shot behind Toskala at 13:43 and pumped his fist wildly after beating the Leafs goalie with a hard wrister at 16:03.
Ponikarovsky restored the two-goal advantage before the end of the period but the advantage didn't last too long. Kane scored 58 seconds into the third before Eager swooped in and tied it with a goal from in-close at 12:27. Suddenly, it was tied.
"We have to learn from these kind of things," Moore said. "Obviously we've had our fair share of comeback wins, but it's a different thing when you have a lead, knowing how to manage the game."
It's something all teams have to do before getting better.
Notes: The Maple Leafs failed to score on a 5-on-3 power play that lasted 55 seconds during the second period. They're 0-for-15 on the season with a two-man advantage. ... John Mitchell was back in the Leafs lineup after missing five games with a shoulder injury. He had an assist. ... Chicago scratched Brent Sopel and Dustin Byfuglien. ... Both teams went 1-for-3 on the power play. ... Toronto hasn't been outshot in 17 games.
|Pavel Kubina (4) Snap shot - ASST: Matt Stajan (13), Alexei Ponikarovsky (9)|
1 - 0 TOR
|PPG - Matt Stajan (6) Backhand shot - ASST: Tomas Kaberle (13), Mikhail Grabovski (5)|
2 - 0 TOR
|Dominic Moore (4) Backhand shot - ASST: Jason Blake (7)|
3 - 0 TOR
|PPG - Patrick Sharp (11) Tip-in - ASST: Duncan Keith (6), Brian Campbell (11)|
3 - 1 TOR
|Patrick Sharp (12) Wrist shot - ASST: Aaron Johnson (4)|
3 - 2 TOR
|Alexei Ponikarovsky (6) Wrist shot - ASST: John Mitchell (4), Jamal Mayers (3)|
4 - 2 TOR
|Patrick Kane (11) Snap shot - ASST: Kris Versteeg (13), Brian Campbell (12)|
4 - 3 TOR
|Ben Eager (3) Snap shot - ASST: Dave Bolland (9), Andrew Ladd (5)|
4 - 4 Tie
|Dave Bolland (3) Backhand shot - ASST: Duncan Keith (7), Marty Havlat (11)|
5 - 4 CHI
|Alexei Ponikarovsky Roughing against Ben Eager|
|Marty Havlat Slashing against Anton Stralman|
|Brent Seabrook Hooking against Niklas Hagman|
|Nikolai Kulemin Too many men/ice - bench|
|Jonathan Toews Holding against Niklas Hagman|
|Anton Stralman Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|SA: 38||TOI: 60:49|
|Saves: 34||EV: 28 - 31|
|PIM: 0||PP: 5 - 6|
|SV%: .895||SH: 1 - 1|
|SA: 36||TOI: 60:49|
|Saves: 31||EV: 28 - 32|
|PIM: 0||PP: 3 - 4|
|SV%: .861||SH: 0 - 0|