TORONTO (AP) - The streaking Chicago Blackhawks made quick work of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Jonathan Toews scored a goal to extend his points streak to nine games and the Blackhawks won their eighth straight game, beating the Maple Leafs 5-3 on Saturday night.
Marian Hossa, Michael Frolik, Viktor Stalberg and Bryan Bickell also scored for Chicago. The defending Stanley Cup champions took a 3-0 lead in the first period, a night after a 5-2 home victory over Carolina.
``We have an expectation to win and get the two points and I think it's showing in the way we're starting games,' Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith said.
Added coach Joel Quenneville: ``I thought we had a great start. It's nice to see all four lines, everybody contributing.'
Joffrey Lupul, Joey Crabb and Luke Schenn replied for Toronto, 10-3-4 since the All-Star break. The Maple Leafs had earned at least a point in nine straight games. Coming off a victory over Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia, Toronto remained four points behind eighth-place Carolina.
``It's good experience for our team to play one of the better teams in the league right now and see what we have to do to get better,' Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. ``It would be awful idiotic to say that we were going to win every game the rest of the way. So I have no problem with the game tonight. We'll move on to the next one, learn our lessons and get better.'
With Toronto chasing its first playoff berth since 2004, the fans were amped up at Air Canada Centre - at least for the opening minute. Shortly after, Maple Leafs defenseman Carl Gunnarsson turned the puck over to Marian Hossa, who beat James Reimer for his 18th of the season at 1:10.
``We had a horrific giveaway right at the wrong time,' Wilson said. ``That energized them and deflated us a bit. They took advantage like good teams do.'
The Blackhawks didn't let up, extending their lead to 3-0 when Frolik finished off a 2-on-1 at 4:13 and Toews converted a pass from Patrick Kane with 3:23 left. The Chicago captain has eight goals and 15 points during his nine-game run.
``We were quick to find out why they're the Stanley Cup champions,' Maple Leafs forward Tim Brent said. ``They capitalized on every mistake we made. We just kind of got away from what we've been doing so well lately ... and it came back to haunt us.'
Lupul briefly restored some hope for the home fans by intercepting a pass at his own blue line and beating Corey Crawford high at 7:28 of the second period, but Stalberg and Bickell scored before the intermission to bring an early end to Reimer's night.
Reimer was replaced by Jean-Sebastien Giguere to start the third period after allowing five goals on 19 shots. Reimer was tagged with his first regulation loss since Feb. 5.
The Leafs pushed hard to get back in the game in the final 20 minutes.
After Crabb scored at 4:26 on a play where the puck took a couple strange bounces, Mikhail Grabovski was hauled down on a breakaway. He made a nice deke that was denied by Crawford, who followed that up with a nice breakaway save on Mike Brown.
``(Crawford) was great in the third period, made a great save on the penalty shot,' Quenneville said.
Schenn scored in the final minute.
NOTES: Stalberg began his NHL career in Toronto before getting traded last summer. ... It was Reimer's 12th appearance in the last 13 games. ... Maple Leafs forward Jay Rosehill was a healthy scratch for the fourth straight game. ... The Blackhawks donated one a Stanley Cup ring to the Hockey Hall of Fame on Saturday afternoon.
The Associated Press News Service
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