Leafs, ‘Hawks both try to bounce back in Chicago

(SportsNetwork.com) – The Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks will both
be looking to bounce back from losses on Sunday night when they battle at
United Center.

The two clubs are also looking to prevent a downward trend heading into the
end of the month. The Maple Leafs have now lost two in a row following a six-
game winning streak, while the Blackhawks had won 10 of 11 before a loss on
Saturday.

Chicago welcomed back starting goaltender Corey Crawford last night versus the
Columbus Blue Jackets and he made 17 saves in a 3-2 shootout loss. He had
missed the previous eight games with an ankle injury.

Each goaltender was perfect through four rounds before former Blackhawk Jeremy
Morin beat Crawford with a quick wrister. Andrew Shaw kept Chicago alive,
however, as he snapped a shot over Sergei Bobrovsky’s glove.

Brandon Saad, the Blackhawks’ eighth shooter, had Bobrovsky beaten, but his
shot rang off the left post. Jack Johnson followed by dragging Crawford out of
position with a slick backhand-forehand move and wristed the shot into an open
net to put Columbus ahead.

Patrick Sharp and Ben Smith tallied for Chicago, which had a 13-game winning
streak over Columbus snapped.

“I thought we did everything, but win that game,” Blackhawks head coach Joel
Quenneville said.

Crawford was appearing in his first game since Nov. 29, so Quenneville could
opt to start him again tonight to get him into form. The netminder is 2-1-0 in
four career meetings with the Leafs, posting a 3.02 goals against average and
.889 save percentage.

If not, backup Antti Raanta would face Toronto for the second time in his
career. He was blitzed for five goals on 25 shots in the first meeting.

After having its winning streak snapped with a loss on Thursday, Toronto was
hammered 7-4 by the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. The Maple Leafs had leads
of 2-0 and 3-2 in the first period, but ended up losing for the first time in
15 games this season when scoring first.

“Well I thought we had a decent start to the hockey game,” Maple Leafs coach
Randy Carlyle said. “We did something right to start the game but we got
sloppy with the puck and allowed them to get back into the game.”

Joffrey Lupul posted a goal and an assist while James van Riemsdyk, Peter
Holland and David Clarkson all scored for the Maple Leafs. Jonathan Bernier
allowed all seven goals on 41 shots, while James Reimer played the final 10
1/2 minutes and stopped the one shot he faced.

It is unknown who will start tonight as Toronto begins a seven-game road trip
that runs through Jan. 3. Bernier is 1-2-0 in his career versus the Blackhawks
with a 3.04 GAA and .906 save percentage, while Reimer is 1-1-0 with a 4.20
GAA and .894 save percentage in two encounters.

The Maple Leafs have followed an eight-game slide versus the Blackhawks with
back-to-back wins in the series. That includes a 3-2 victory at home on Nov.
1, when Reimer made 45 saves and Holland, van Riemsdyk and Nazem Kadri all
scored.

Brad Richards and Brent Seabrook had the goals for Chicago, while Crawford
made 24 saves.

The Blackhawks have won four in a row at home over the Maple Leafs.