NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, November 1 (All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (6-3-1) at Toronto Maple Leafs (5-4-1), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Blackhawks will try to sweep a two-game tour of Ontario when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs in Saturday's battle at Air Canada Centre.
The Blackhawks won for the second time in three games on Thursday, picking up a shootout victory over the Ottawa Senators to kick off a brief road trip. Patrick Sharp scored in the third round of the shootout to give Chicago the 5-4 victory in Canada's capital city.
Sharp was the final skater of the shootout and he made it count as he faked to the forehand and roofed the puck over Craig Anderson for the win.
"It's always nice to get a win on the road in a tough place like this," said Sharp.
Jonathan Toews scored twice while Kris Versteeg and Marian Hossa each posted a goal and an assist for the Blackhawks. Hossa recorded his 1,000th career point in the victory, becoming the 80th NHL player to reach the milestone.
Scott Darling made 28 saves for the win in his third straight start, but with No. 1 netminder Corey Crawford due to return from an upper-body injury tonight, the rookie was reassigned to the club's AHL affiliate in Rockford on Friday.
Darling went 2-1-0 with a 1.98 goals against average during his first foray into the NHL, but, for now at least, it appears head coach Joel Quenneville is content to keep Antti Raanta in the club's backup role.
Crawford is expected to start tonight, while Raanta should get the call in Sunday's home tilt versus Winnipeg.
The Blackhawks, who are 2-2-0 on the road this season, have dominated Toronto in recent years although the Maple Leafs did post a 7-3 rout when the clubs last met on Dec. 14 of last season at ACC. Chicago had won the previous eight encounters overall between the clubs and had claimed four straight in Toronto.
The Maple Leafs, however, enter Saturday having won two straight and three of their last four games. Toronto notched a 4-0 home victory against Buffalo on Tuesday and posted a 4-1 decision Friday evening in Columbus.
Phil Kessel and Daniel Winnik both had a goal and two assists, leading the Maple Leafs to the easy win over the Blue Jackets. Kessel, who leads Toronto with 13 points, has recorded four goals and four assists over his last four games and he already has five multi-point games this season.
David Clarkson and Nazem Kadri also scored, and Jonathan Bernier made 28 saves for the Maple Leafs.
"We're feeling good, but the season is full of peaks and valleys," said Winnik, who played in his 500th career game.
The Maple Leafs announced before the game that forward Joffrey Lupul will be sidelined indefinitely with a broken bone in his right hand. The oft-injured Lupul has two goals and one assist in nine games this season.
James Reimer is likely to start in net tonight for Toronto. His only career appearance against the Blackhawks was on March 5, 2011, when Reimer surrendered five goals in a 5-3 loss.
11/01 10:28:59 ET