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Rapid Reaction: Hawks 5, Leafs 4

3/1/2012

Let's take a look-see how the Blackhawks defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4.

How it happened: The Maple Leafs took a 3-1 lead in the first period and Andrew Shaw explained how that happened after the period ended 3-2: “They’re playing desperate hockey. They want to go in the playoffs and so do we. And we need the win tonight.” Desperate hockey is right. The Blackhawks used a second-period goaltender change -- Corey Crawford was benched for his second straight start -- and second-period goals by their top two remaining stars, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa, to eke out a win over the miserable Leafs. New defensemen Johnny Oduya was on the ice for all three first-period goals, and Joel Quenneville broke up his pairing with Brent Seabrook in the second. The Blackhawks were trailing 3-1 before Marcus Kruger scored with 30 seconds left in the first. In the second, Patrick Kane scored on a nifty poke past Jonas Gustavsson, and 3 minutes later Kane set up Marian Hossa for what turned out to be the game winner. Emery, who started the last two games, stopped the seven shots he faced in the second and his first 15 in the third, before a Mike Brown goal with 2 seconds left. Crawford only stopped seven of 10 shots, which I'm told is not a good percentage. Hossa scored an empty-netter with 15.9 seconds left.

What it means: Chicago came into the game seventh in the Western Conference playoff race but ended a three-game losing streak. Toronto lost its sixth straight contest. The Leafs have only one victory since winning three straight in early February. Oduya, who represents Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman’s only significant trade-deadline move, had a rough start. But rookie tough guy Brandon Bollig did get into a fight with Leafs defenseman Luke Schenn, which helps make up for John Scott’s exodus to New York. The up-and-down season of Crawford continued.

What’s next: The Hawks play a 6 p.m. game at Ottawa on Friday night.