Maple Leafs cruise past Blackhawks 7-3

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 14, 2013 at 10:20 pm •  Published: December 14, 2013

TORONTO (AP) — The Toronto Maple Leafs were coming off a poor game in St. Louis where coach Randy Carlyle said his team looked "brain-dead."

Not the best way to welcome the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night.

But the Leafs rebounded in a big way.

Joffrey Lupul and Peter Holland each scored twice and combined with linemate Mason Raymond for 11 points to lift Toronto to a 7-3 win over the Stanley Cup champions.

Toronto lost 6-3 to the Blues on Thursday. Toronto had played a strong game the previous game, but was still beaten 3-1 by the visiting Los Angeles Kings. A 5-2 home defeat at the hands of the Boston Bruins started a three-game slide.

"We really felt we needed a win," Lupul said. "It's a hard stretch for us, a lot of games in a short stretch of time so Saturday night at home with a day of rest, we came into the game feeling like it was pretty close to a must-win for us. Things were kind of starting to snowball the other way."

Tied 1-1 after the first period, Toronto outscored Chicago 4-1 in the second to pull ahead for its first win in regulation time since Nov. 19, a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders.

The victory also snapped an eight-game losing streak to Chicago going back to February 2003.

Jerry D'Amigo, Nikolai Kulemin and Phil Kessel also scored for Toronto.

Toronto outshot the opposition for just the fifth time this season, holding a 32-28 edge.

It was a big offensive night for the Leafs, who have had to count on their top line of Kessel, Nazem Kadri and James Van Riemsdyk in recent weeks. They had a season-high seven goals against the Stanley Cup champions.

Lupul finished with two goals and two assists while Raymond had four assists and Holland two goals and an assist on a breakout night for the newly assembled Leafs' second line.

Patrick Kane had two goals and Brandon Saad scored for Chicago, whose league-best offence sputtered on the night.

The Blackhawks had arrived riding a three-game win streak during which they had outscored the opposition 19-6. The Hawks were also 9-0-2 against Eastern Conference opposition.

"We were not very good," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "They were much better than us. We got what we deserved tonight. We still got ourselves back in the game, 1-1 at the start of the second period and put ourselves in a decent spot. ... But basically we got what we deserved because we weren't ready to play."

The Leafs came into the game in a nosedive, with just two regulation wins in their past 19 outings.

The lack of pushback against St. Louis had been a particular low for the Leafs.

"They weren't very proud of our performance. They knew we didn't do a lot of things that we set out to do," Carlyle said of the Blues game.

"I thought our hockey club responded the way they needed to respond. They took responsibility for our actions and that's a good sign. The most encouraging thing for us tonight was our work ethic and we stuck to our system and played it."

The game was Carlyle's 100th as Leafs coach, improving his record at the Toronto helm to 49-40-11.

Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf returned to the lineup after serving a two-game suspension for boarding Boston defenseman Kevan Miller.

However, forward David Clarkson was handed a two-game ban earlier in the day for an illegal hit to the head of St. Louis forward Vladimir Sobotka.

Finnish rookie Antti Raanta got the start again for Chicago in the absence of the injured Corey Crawford and Nikolai Khabibulin.

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