One of the most exciting things that fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs had to look forward to this season was the play of newly acquired star forward John Tavares and thus far through the first two games of the season fans have not been disappointed. Although the Leafs themselves have struggled to start the 2018 - 2019 National Hockey League regular season Tavares has managed to pick up a goal and an assist in the first two games of the season, averaging out to a point per game. On top of that Tavares currently boasts a plus minus rating of +2 in spite of the 2 straight losses for the Leaf but it wasn't until Sunday night that he truly displayed what he's capable of bringing to the Maple Leafs.
The Maple Leafs were facing off against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night and, although many pundits have projected the Blackhawks to do quite poorly this season, the Blackhawks gave the Maple Leafs all that they could handle. The Blackhawks jumped out to a very early lead with back to back goals in the game's opening period but with Chicago Blackhawks starter Corey Crawford still out of the line up the Maple Leafs were able to respond with two goals of their own against Blackhawks backup goalie Cam Ward. As a result the Leafs went into the first intermission all tied up at two goals a piece and it was after that intermission that Tavares began to truly take over the game.
I don't know what head coach Mike Babcock said to Tavares in between periods or what it was exactly that lit a fire under Tavares as the Leafs came back out for the second period but Tavares found another gear and began to dominate. Over the next two periods the Leafs star would record a total of 3 goals for his first career hat trick as a member of the Leafs organization, and it was a good thing that he did.
In spite of the fact that Tavares scored 3 goals in the game the Blackhawks refused to go away and continued to claw back the lead time after time no matter how many pucks Toronto put past Cam Ward. Even with the Tavares hat trick the Leafs found themselves all tied up at 6 goals a piece when the third period ended, forcing an overtime period to determine a winner. Needless to say if Tavares had not turned up his level of play after coming out of the 2nd period this could have easily turned into a blowout for the Blackhawks but instead he gave his team a terrific chance and they rewarded him by picking up the Leafs' 7th goal in overtime, the 13th goal of the game overall.
I don't believe that anyone had any doubts about whether or not Tavares would be able to deliver on the 7 year, 77 million dollar deal that he signed but he could not have proved it in a more emphatic fashion that he did tonight. You can view all 3 of his goals in the video below.