Perlini helps 'Hawks edge Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews leads his team against the Philadelphia Flyers Friday night

The improving Blackhawks are headed in the right direction, although their latest win was a wild ride.

The Blackhawks almost blew a five-goal lead, hanging on for a 5-4 win in Toronto in a game that saw the Maple Leafs, trailing 5-1 after 40 minutes, fire 29 shots at replacement goaltender Collin Delia in a third-period comeback that fell just short.

Duncan Keith, Brendan Perlini, Dominik Kahun, Brandon Saad and Alex DeBrincat scored for Chicago. Radko Gudas (3rd) and Shayne Gostisbehere (7th) opened a 5-2 lead with 6:33 left in the second period but the Flyers gave up back-to-back goals by Jake Muzzin and saw the lead shrink to 5-4 before the second intermission. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford had to leave the game due to an illness and was replaced by backup Collin Delia. Colin Delia had 26 saves - all in the third.

"We've got to learn from the third period because that was way too close", Chicago forward Marcus Kruger said. We talked about it going into the third, and still we didn't get the game that we wanted.

Zajac showed some deft hands in front as he tied the score 2-2 with 19 seconds left in the first period.

Prior to the current winning streak, the Blackhawks had lost four of five.

"I just think as we go here, we're getting more comfortable with how we have to play to win", said the 34-year-old Colliton. "But until I see you're at the top of your game that's not what we're doing". "They're hungry. They're fighting for a playoff spot".

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It marked the first time the Leafs have given up four goals in a period this season, and the first time it's happened in the opening 20 minutes of a home game since December 23, 2008.

The Hawks made it 5-0 with 7 1/2 minutes remaining in the middle period when DeBrincat roofed a shot past Sparks for his 38th. Pavel Buchnevich scored for the Rangers.

Matthews pulled the Maple Leafs to 5-2 at 7:57 of the third with his 32nd.

"We didn't put ourselves in a very good position", Rielly said. Toronto averages just 2.8 per game, the least in the Eastern Conference.

"I tried that early if you remember, I tried to put the line back together, they weren't ready to go", said Babcock after practice in Vegas on February 13. The Toronto Maple Leafs are averaging 3.6 goals per game and are scoring on 22.3 percent of their power play opportunities. However, officials on the ice in Toronto ruled that Delia knocked the net off accidentally, denying the Leafs of a clean opportunity at a game-tying goal.

Toronto will have a chance, again, to prove that they've learned their first-period lesson when they host the Philadelphia Flyers Friday night.

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