ST. LOUIS — Jonathan Toews didn’t have any particular move or shot in mind as he broke away in overtime.
“Just score. Just get lucky,” Toews said. “Find a way to score somehow.”
He did, and because of that, the Chicago Blackhawks are one victory away from advancing to the second round of the playoffs.
Toews scored the breakaway backhand winner in overtime, his second game-winner of this postseason, as the Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 at Scottrade Center on Friday night. The Blackhawks captain has had a solid postseason regardless, but he’s come up with big goals to go with good all-around play. And Friday’s winner was definitely a big one, giving the Blackhawks their first victory at Scottrade Center this postseason.
“I was trying to get the puck out of the zone and it lands on his stick. I couldn’t’ believe it. I was pretty happy seeing that,” said Duncan Keith, whose pass deflected off Andrew Shaw’s shinpads and went right to Toews. “If we’re going to have a guy on the break away, it’s going to be him. He’s pretty clutch on those; nice goal.”
Toews is off to a hot start this postseason, a far cry from last year’s playoffs. He struggled to score and also got frustrated in the second-round series against the Detroit Red Wings — defenseman Brent Seabrook played a big part in calming Toews down. This time around, Toews is focused.
He’s also rested. A left-arm injury sustained against the Pittsburgh Penguins in late March shelved Toews for the rest of the regular season. Toews didn’t like missing games, but the rest/recovery time ended up being beneficial.
“Getting that break coming into the playoffs got him fresh,” coach Joel Quenneville said following Friday’s game. “Lot of hockey for him (over the) last bit of time. But he’s skating hard and skating well. That time away did him some good.”
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Toews came into this postseason refreshed, and it pretty much showed immediately. Sure, his winner in Game 3 wasn’t nearly as highlight-reel worthy as Friday night’s goal — a dribbler that shouldn’t have, but did, beat Ryan Miller. Doesn’t matter. A game-winner’s a game-winner.
“It’s nice to see him get some goals there,” Keith said. “I think he’s always got that leadership and that work ethic and that two-way game in him. His scoring makes our team that much more dangerous.”
The Blackhawks’ captain has found his game early this postseason. Perhaps sometimes he has a specific idea of what he wants to do on a breakaway. On Friday, he just wanted to score, somehow, some way, to put the Blackhawks up in this series. That, he did.
“If you don’t go into an overtime period thinking you might be the guy, that you might be the one to help your team win, I don’t think you’re in the right frame of mind to score that goal,” Toews said. “Every guy in this room goes in thinking he’ll get that lucky bounce. I tell myself that a lot. It doesn’t always work out, but tonight it did.”