CHICAGO – Peter Bondra scored his 500th NHL goal early in the third period to snap a 1-all tie and the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 on Friday night.

Bondra, signed by Chicago as a free agent on Dec. 10, drove to the net and rammed a rebound of Jassen Cullimore’s shot from the left point past Jean-Sebastien Aubin 6:37 into the third. Bondra became the 37th player in league history to reach the 500-goal mark.

Bryan Smolinski, who had a short-handed goal, and Brent Seabrook scored for Chicago, which improved to 8-2-3 under head coach Denis Savard.

John Pohl scored a power-play goal for Toronto, which had eight advantages compared to three for Chicago.

Chicago’s Nikolai Khabibulin blocked 25 shots. He twice stopped Toronto’s leading goal scorer, Darcy Tucker, point-blank – including on a first-period breakaway.

Aubin made 22 saves.

Maple Leafs center Michael Peca suffered a right knee injury late in the first period and had to be helped from the ice. He didn’t return, and team officials had no further update before the end of the game.

Peca collided with Chicago defenseman Jim Vandermeer at full speed in the Toronto zone with 5:17 left in the first. Vandermeer received a five-minute penalty for kneeing and game misconduct on the play.

Toronto took a 1-0 lead when Pohl scored on a power play with 4:01 left in the first period.

After taking a cross-ice pass from Tomas Kaberle, Pohl fired a one-time shot from the left that beat Khabibulin between the pads.

Smolinski’s short-handed goal with 8:57 left in the second tied it 1-all.

After taking a pass from Denis Arkhipov, Smolinski beat Aubin on the stick side with a shot from the left circle.

After Bondra gave Chicago a 2-1 lead, Seabrook made it 3-1 with 2:44 left. He scored on a shot from the right point that deflected off the stick of Toronto’s Chad Kilger.

Notes: The Maple Leafs and Blackhawks, both Original Six NHL franchises, faced each other for the first time in Chicago since Feb. 12, 2003. … Toronto D Wade Belak was accidentally cut above the nose by the stick of Chicago’s Patrick Sharp with 6:48 left in the first. He skated off the ice and no penalty was assessed on the play. … Chicago LW Karl Stewart suffered a leg injury in the first period and didn’t return. … Blackhawks C Jeff Hamilton sat out with the flu. … Maple Leafs LW Alexei Ponikarovsky missed the game with a separated shoulder and C Kyle Wellwood sat out with a hip flexor injury.

AP-ES-12-22-06 2314EST


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