CHICAGO (AP) — Playing with heavy hearts, Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks earned a difficult win.
Kane had a power-play goal and two assists, leading Antti Raanta and the Blackhawks to a 4-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night.
The Blackhawks played with a “CR” decal on their helmets after assistant equipment manager Clint Reif died earlier in the day. The team said it was “deeply saddened” by the loss and declined further comment while asking for respect for the privacy for Reif’s family and friends.
“We’re still in disbelief,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “The fact we went out there and played the way we did, I think we dedicated that one to our good friend Clint.
“I’m glad we got the win tonight.”
Reif, 34, was “found to be unresponsive in his home” on Sunday morning, according to a statement from the DuPage County Coroners Office. Authorities are investigating the death, and the coroners’ office declined further comment.
Raanta made 31 saves for his second shutout of the season, helping Chicago rebound from a 3-2 shootout loss Saturday night in Columbus.
“I commend the guys. Very emotional, draining day,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “To come up and play such a solid game, from Antti right on out, they played the right way.
“I know we got better as the first period went on and had a real solid third period. It was a real challenging day.”
David Rundblad, Kris Versteeg and Toews also scored, and Patrick Sharp had three assists as the Blackhawks won for the 14th time in their last 17 games. Chicago has just one regulation loss in its last 13 games.
James Reimer made 30 saves in Toronto’s third straight loss following a six-game winning streak.
“They moved the puck around us quite a bit in the hockey game and we just didn’t have an answer for it,” Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. “And then we when we did have some chances, I thought the goaltender made some big stops.”
Although No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford was available, Raanta started for the third time in four games and recorded his third career shutout. Crawford faced the Blue Jackets on Saturday after missing eight games with a foot injury.
“Every single game (Raanta’s) been in the net he’s done what he could to enhance his positioning here,” Quenneville said. “Our goaltending has been outstanding no matter who’s been in the net.”
Rundblad put the Blackhawks in front with a screened shot from the left point with 4:30 left in the first period. Sharp and Toronto’s Korbinian Holzer were tussling in front of Reimer as the shot sailed in.
It was Rundblad’s first goal since the defenseman had his first NHL goal for Ottawa on Nov. 27, 2011.
Versteeg made it 2-0 with just .4 seconds left in the first on a nifty move. He kicked Kane’s off-target centering pass to his stick before beating Reimer on the glove side from the right circle.
The Maple Leafs, who entered with an NHL-leading 3.39 goals per game average, fired some prime chances at Raanta in the scoreless second. Jake Gardiner’s shot from the blue line clanked off the left post midway through the frame.
“We weren’t able to turn possession into good quality chances,” Toronto forward Joffrey Lupul said. “And when we did, the puck didn’t really seem to bounce our way.”
Kane made it 3-0 at 9:07 of the third when he pounced on a rebound of Brent Seabrook’s shot from the point. It was Kane’s 16th goal of the season.
Raanta was sharp in the third, especially when Toronto fired six shots during a power-play midway through the period.
NOTES: The Blackhawks observed a pregame moment of silence for Reif. … Blackhawks C Brad Richards was sidelined by an upper-body injury and is day to day. D Tim Erixon was a healthy scratch. … Toronto D Stephane Robidas sat out with an undisclosed injury suffered Saturday against Philadelphia. Leafs C Leo Komarov (concussion) missed his 11th game. … It was the second and final regular-season game between the Original Six rivals. The Leafs won 3-2 in Toronto on Nov. 1.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.