Jonathan Toews scores tiebreaking goal in third as Hawks take 3-2 lead vs. Wild
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 11: Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks scores on goalie Ilya Bryzgalov #30 of the Minnesota Wild in the third period, as Ryan Suter #20 of the Wild skates behind, in Game Five of the Second Round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on May 11, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
Best of seven
As the Blackhawks trudged off the ice at the end of the first
period Sunday, another forgettable 20 minutes mercifully over, a sizable smattering of the fans at the United Center — the 22,000-plus who’ve seen so much to cheer about in recent seasons — rained boos down on them before Frank Pellico’s organ quickly and loudly drowned them out.
It was hard to blame them. The Hawks again were being outplayed and outworked by the Minnesota Wild — on home ice, no less.
‘‘The crowd was frustrated; we were frustrated,’’ winger Marian Hossa said. ‘‘We just came to the dressing room. We just had to
relax and come back. We knew how we need to play, so we needed to just take a deep breath, relax and play hard. I think in the second and third, we were better. And everybody’s happy after the game.’’
Indeed, the fans were cheering as loudly as ever after the Hawks rallied for a 2-1 victory in Game 5 of their second-round series. After
seven frustrating periods, the Hawks finally re-emerged and re-engaged, taking a 3-2 series lead.
Remarkably, the Hawks haven’t lost a playoff game after a series has been tied 2-2 in the Jonathan Toews/Patrick Kane era. They’re now 13-0 in Games 5 and 6 in such series, with a chance to make it 14-0 and advance to the Western Conference finals with a victory Tuesday in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Naturally, Toews scored the game-winning goal in this one — his league-leading fourth of the playoffs — early in the third period.
‘‘He’s unbelievable,’’ Hossa said. ‘‘That’s why he’s a superstar.’’
And it was the kind of gritty goal the Hawks need to score against the Wild — really, the only one the Wild usually allow. Patrick Sharp threw the puck on net, and Wild defenseman Ryan Suter swatted the high rebound out of the air to the slot, where Hossa bulled his way through to the puck and backhanded it to Toews. Toews, who got the play started with a big hit on the Wild’s Mikael Granlund along the boards, then put in his own rebound for the pivotal goal in the pivotal game.
‘‘Just an ugly goal,’’ Toews said.
The reunited top line of Toews, Sharp and Hossa — the line that was arguably the best in hockey for most of the season before injuries and tinkering broke it up after the game March 1 at Soldier Field — helped change the tone and pace of the game after the Hawks found themselves down 1-0 on an end-
to-end goal by Erik Haula in the first period.
The Hawks needed it, too. After putting on two clinics at home, the Wild again were dictating tempo and style. The Hawks had only six shots on goal in the first.
But the Hawks spoke up in the dressing room, then woke up on the ice. They peppered Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov with 15 shots on goal in the second after having 22 or fewer in each of the first four games of the series. It paid off when they tied the score 1-1 on Bryan Bickell’s deflection of a shot by Kane on the power play midway through the second. The power play was generated by a drive to the net by center Peter Regin, who gave the Hawks the fourth-line presence they had been lacking in the series.
Then the Hawks got greasy, got the lead, got the crowd back and got a chance to close out the series.
‘‘There are moments where you get ticked off and get heated and emotion takes over,’’ Toews said. ‘‘I don’t think there’s such a thing as frustration getting to us. There’s tough moments, but we overcame it and kept playing, and now we’re back in a great situation where we can finish this series off. We know it’s going to take our best game and we know we haven’t played it yet, so it’s perfect timing.’’