Sunday night's contest between the Maple Leafs and Blackhawks in Chicago was a wild back-and-forth affair that featured 13 goals, late game dramatics and a celebration battle between two of the league's biggest superstars.
After scoring what was seemingly a crucial clutch goal with a minute left in the third period to give Toronto a 6-5 lead, Auston Matthews put his glove up to his ear and beckoned the stunned, silenced crowd on the road. It was the type of celebration that often gets under the skin of opposing players and fans, but the fine folks of Chicago wouldn't have to wait long to exact their revenge.
About 30 seconds later, Patrick Kane netted the equalizer for the Blackhawks, tying the game up with half a minute remaining in regulation. How did he celebrate? By mimicking Matthews' celebration and drawing a massive roar from the home crowd. Well-played.
Even Matthews had to appreciate the bit of gamesmanship, and the young Leafs forward couldn't help but let a grin sneak out on the bench after Chicago tied the game to force overtime.
Ultimately, it would be the Leafs who'd get the last laugh, as Morgan Rielly scored to clinch the win in overtime. Despite the loss, it's hard to say that the home crowd didn't get their money's worth; it's still very early in the season, but this was one of most fun, free-spirited games that you'll likely get to witness this year.
With so much emphasis put on hockey's "code" and unwritten rules, it's refreshing when you get to see players lighten up, showcase their personality and embrace some fun, competitive jousting in the heat of battle. Celebration duels don't happen too often, but they should.