Jonathan Toews’ ability is never in doubt. He’s going to drive the net, he’s going to be trying to score on every opportunity he gets. He’s had some tremendous games off those efforts. He had another one on Tuesday night.
Toews scored a hat trick, the fourth overall of his career, and Corey Crawford won in relief of a struggling Nikolai Khabibulin as the Chicago Blackhawks rallied to beat the Ottawa Senators 6-5 at the United Center. Toews’ trick was part of a four-goal outburst from the Blackhawks, who trailed 4-2 when it began and led 6-4 when it ended. For coach Joel Quenneville, Toews’ night was one to remember.
“Jonny had a special game. If you’re a fan and you watch him play tonight, you’re gonna say, ‘Wow.’ That was a special performance,” Quenneville said. “That line had a great night as well. They had high-quality chances, they had the puck and were dangerous off the rush. It’s one of those performances you get to see, you remember.”
Speaking of that top line, Marian Hossa had a goal and an assist and Patrick Sharp had two assists. Andrew Shaw had two goals, including the game-winner. Crawford stopped 14 of 15 in relief for the victory.
For Toews, who nearly had Patrick Sharp’s power-play shot go off him for another goal — that was credited as Shaw’s first — he figured it was only a matter of time before the offense starting coming.
“It definitely builds your confidence a little,” he said. “Hopefully you can ride that out and keep playing well. When you score goal or you’re in on one early… I wouldn’t say a pressure lifts off you. But in a way you’re not pressing for that first one. You just go out there and make plays and eventually the puck comes back to you and you find a way to score another one.”
Toews’ performance wasn’t just memorable. It turned out to be much needed. The Blackhawks tied the game 2-2 off Hossa’s goal when the Senators struck quickly, twice. Joe Corvo’s seeing-eye shot got in from the blue line to give the Senators a 3-2 lead with 10:19 remaining in the second, and Mika Zibanejad squeaked one through Khabibulin 55 seconds later for a 4-2 advantage. That was it for Khabibulin, who was pulled after allowing four goals on 22 shots.
“Tough game,” said Quenneville. “I just liked how we responded. We had a couple shifts after when we were disorganized in our end. But getting that third goal got us thinking, ‘Let’s go, let’s get back in this game.’ But you’ve got to be better than that.”
With Crawford in, the Blackhawks responded. Toews’ first goal was a wraparound off a loose puck behind the net. His second was on a sweet feed from Johnny Oduya and the third came on a Brent Seabrook rebound.
“He’s so good around the net,” Hossa said of Toews. “He’s jumping in for the loose pucks. That’s how he scored two goals. He drove the net hard and got rewarded.”
Hossa said the team felt they had the comeback in them.
“We said we can’t just give up this game because we felt we were in it the whole time, even when they were up 4-2,” he said. “We stuck with the plan, just kept going at them and found a way to win, which is important.”
The Blackhawks wrapped up their back-to-back with four points. These last two didn’t come easy, but they did come, thanks in part to a “special” performance.
“It seems like he always comes through in those kind of moments, those situations,” Crawford said. “It wasn’t any different tonight.”