Five seconds after winning the opening faceoff of overtime, Jonathan Toews wheeled around at center ice and knew he had one thing to do: Get on his horse.
And that's exactly what happened as the Chicago Blackhawks' captain surged ahead of Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon and proceeded to fire home a perfect cross-ice pass from Patrick Kane to give the Hawks a 2-1 victory Tuesday night at the United Center.
The winning goal -- Toews' 18th of the season -- came just nine seconds into OT as the Hawks (29-30-8) won for just the fifth time in 17 games.
"It's fun in front of our fans to give them something to cheer about," Toews said. "We still get great support -- people filling the building and coming out even though we haven't been great."
J-F Berube (2-1-0) was stellar in net, turning away 33 shots, including a game-saver that came on a shot from Gabriel Landeskog with just 49 seconds remaining. Seventeen of Berube's saves came in the second period.
"He played great tonight," Toews said. "He kept us in that game, especially in the second when we seemed to give up a ton of chances and a ton of shots."
The Hawks took a 1-0 lead at 5:08 of the first period when Erik Gustafsson's pass attempt deflected off Colorado's Patrik Nemeth and scooted past Semyon Varlamov.
The Avs knotted the score at 1-1 on a MacKinnon power-play goal with 3:42 left in the second. The Hawks appeared to retake the lead on a Brandon Saad goal 2:25 later, but it was ruled Saad kicked the puck into the net.
The Avs (35-24-7) picked up an important point as they continue to battle for a wild-card spot.
Smiles all around:
Jonathan Toews is used to having a practical joke or two played on him by Brent Seabrook or other Blackhawks teammates.
As for 12-year-old kids? Not so much.
But that's exactly what happened to the Hawks' captain during morning skate when Mason Berg -- who joined the team on the ice as part of the Make-A-Wish foundation -- unscrewed the top to Toews' water bottle.
"Got a nice face wash there," Toews said, laughing. "Apparently, that was his idea -- it wasn't Seabs or any of the other guys telling him to do that. It was fun having him."
During his time on the ice, Mason, who has muscular dystrophy, was able to pass the puck with Toews, Patrick Kane and Erik Gustafsson. He also scored a few goals against Anton Forsberg and got Toews to drop the gloves as they engaged in a playful "fight."
"Today was very special because he's always like, 'Mom, can we go to the game? Mom, can I meet the guys?' " said Patty Callahan. "It's something he will never, ever forget, and neither will I. …
"I'm going to have a happy little kid on my hands for quite a while."
Former Hawks defenseman Brian Campbell surprised Mason on Friday at his school in Midlothian to invite him to the "Blackhawk-for-a-Day" experience.