Blackhawks hoping to finish stronger as Leafs visit

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The Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs each have a bad taste in their mouths after losing in shootouts Saturday night.

On Sunday evening, the Blackhawks and Maple Leafs will face one another, meaning at least one club will go to sleep feeling better.

Chicago also is emphasizing its recent improvement after earning at least one point in four of its last five games. The Blackhawks are 2-1-2 during November and believe they are close to turning post-regulation losses into victories.

“It’s good we’re getting points,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton told reporters after Saturday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. “We need some two-pointers. To really move it forward, the team needs to be rewarded for those efforts.”

The Maple Leafs also have been playing well overall, even if they let a second point get away Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Toronto is 3-0-1 during November and has outscored opponents 11-8 during that stretch. The team’s top scorer has been Auston Matthews, an electric forward who has 13 goals and eight assists in his first 18 games of the season. He has scored on 19.4 percent of his shots on goal.

However, the Maple Leafs will be without right winger Mitch Marner, who sustained a right ankle injury against the Flyers and won’t travel with the team. He has 18 points (four goals, 14 assists) in 18 games this season, and he tallied a career-high 94 points in 82 games in 2018-19.

“I mean, what are you gonna do?” Toronto head coach Mike Babcock told reporters when asked about the injury. “I don’t know the extent — days, weeks. No sense dwelling on the negative. Someone else gets an opportunity. Let’s go.”

Chicago’s top scorer is right winger Patrick Kane, who has 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 16 games. Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome are tied for second on the scoring list with 10 points apiece.

The Blackhawks likely will start Robin Lehner in net after he rested Saturday in favor of longtime goaltender Corey Crawford. Lehner is 3-3-2 with a 2.33 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage in nine games this season. He is 5-5-0 in 11 career games against Toronto with a 2.64 GAA and a .924 save percentage.

Toronto leaned on 65 minutes from goaltender Frederik Andersen on Saturday night, which could open the door for Michael Hutchinson to make the start against the Blackhawks on Sunday. Hutchinson is 0-3-1 with a 4.25 GAA and an .885 save percentage in five games this season, but he has fared well against Chicago in his career with a 4-1-1 record, 1.33 GAA and .961 save percentage.

Toronto is 3-3-0 on the road this season.

Chicago is 4-3-2 at home, where it will return to a fan base eager to see more success.

“Tide’s starting to turn a little bit for us,” Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan said in comments published by the Chicago Sun-Times. “Everyone’s getting accustomed with how people play and their tendencies and stuff. But we’ve been playing some good hockey for most of the course of the season, and we’re starting to get rewarded a little bit, which is good for us.”

–Field Level Media

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