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updated: 4/21/2014 11:46 PM

Powerful line, powerful results for Hawks

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  • Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews pressures St. Louis Blues goalie Ryan Miller during game 3 of the NHL first-round Stanley Cup playoffs in Chicago Monday night.

      Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews pressures St. Louis Blues goalie Ryan Miller during game 3 of the NHL first-round Stanley Cup playoffs in Chicago Monday night.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
 

In a series where not enough had been working for his hockey team, Joel Quenneville borrowed from last year's Stanley Cup championship manual Monday night.

He went back to something that worked so splendidly.

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The Blackhawks coach started Jonathan Toews and flanked his captain with struggling Bryan Bickell on his left and Patrick Kane on his right.

Desperate times -- a 2-0 hole against St. Louis in the best-of-seven opening-round playoff series -- called for what could be considered a desperate move.

"Two special players, and they fed off each other -- anticipating offensively. See plays, make plays," Quenneville said of reuniting his two 25-year-old stars, Toews and Kane. "They're a threat off the rush, in the zone."

Reunited felt so good 4:10 into Game 3 at the United Center. Toews skated over the blue line and snapped a wrist shot past the blades of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and through the pads of goalie Ryan Miller.

There wasn't another goal scored in the game until Marcus Kruger banged a puck into an empty net with 19.2 seconds left, securing the Blackhawks' 2-0 win.

"We've played so much together over the years that -- whether we were together or not the whole season -- we can go back out there and just play hockey," Toews said of him and Kane. "I think we know each other's game really well, and I think a big reason why we had success last year (in the playoffs) was because we had Bicks out there creating a lot of space. He made some great plays.

"If we can get the puck to him, he's got the big shot, too. So there's a lot of good things going there. Tonight was good for us to get that first goal."

In Monday's pregame skate, Quenneville played Toews with Bickell and Brandon Saad. Andrew Shaw centered for Kane and Kris Versteeg. In the series' first two games, Kane played primarily with Bickell and Shaw, while Toews skated on a line with Versteeg and Saad.

When did Toews find out who his linemates would be for Game 3?

"Just before the game," he said after winning 19 of 24 faceoffs (79 percent).

Bickell didn't discover the offensive magic he displayed in last year's playoffs when he scored 9 goals, earning him a four-year, $16 million contract. He even took a hooking penalty in the first period. But he led the team with 8 hits, and his coach seemed satisfied with his big winger's nearly 16 minutes of ice-time.

"I was comfortable with that line on both sides of the puck," Quenneville said. "Bick adds a little dimension. (The line) was effective tonight."

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