Andrew Shaw hadn't played with Jonathan Toews since his first game in the NHL as a rookie.
It didn't look like it Thursday when Shaw scored 2 goals back on the first line with Toews in the Blackhawks' 6-1 win over Columbus at the United Center.
Toews also scored 2 goals as the Hawks made it 12 wins in a row over the Blue Jackets.
"Their play recognition was high end and they really protected the puck well," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said of his first line of Toews, Shaw and Brandon Saad. "For a line that had never played together it looked like there was a lot of familiarity there."
Credit Toews with making that appear to be the case. Whoever gets to play with the Hawks captain should be considered the luckiest guy on the team.
Toews is on a roll, with 5 goals and an assist in the last three games. He has come back from the Olympics not only with the gold medal he won with Canada, but with a strong game.
"I'm sure winning a championship gets you excited," Quenneville said. "The big outdoor game, Jonny rises to the occasion. The bigger the stage, the bigger the setting, he's a special player. He was outstanding in the Olympics. I thought he was arguably one of the best players in the whole tournament. The last few games it looks like he's on that same pace."
Toews downplays his contribution to the Hawks' stretch run as they battle St. Louis and Colorado for first place in the Central Division.
"I just feel like I'm getting chances and feel confident when I get the puck," Toews said. "Whether I'm scoring or not, I feel like I'm generating a lot of chances and finding ways to stay patient with the puck. If I keep my feet moving eventually things are going to open up. I'm getting a lot of help from my linemates.
"We know we don't have too many games left and that every point is important, but at the same time we want to keep improving. I think we had a good bounce back from the softer effort against Colorado."
The Hawks have 18 games to play and trail first-place St. Louis by 2 points. They lead the Avs by 1 point.
"At the end of the day we're motivated to build ourselves into the team we want to be come playoff time," Toews said. "That keeps us honest and makes sure we're working and competing the right way for these points every single night and we'll keep going forward with that attitude.
"That's why the game against Colorado was so disappointing. Not only did we not play the way we wanted to as a team but we didn't play with the right desperation."
Shaw doesn't know how long he'll play with Toews so he'll enjoy it while it lasts.
"It's pretty exciting," Shaw said. "Jonny is a great guy to play with. You know he's going to work hard.
"There are some great teams in the Western Conference and positioning is huge. We want home ice advantage in the playoffs and we're going to go out there and get it."
Shaw got the chance to play on the first line because of the upper body injury suffered by Marian Hossa against the Penguins on Saturday.
"When you've got a guy out, you try things and you give a guy a chance," Quenneville said. "Saad looked immediately like he fit back there with Jonny and then you start looking for a little balance with (Patrick) Sharp and (Patrick) Kane back together. Shaw took advantage of the opportunity."
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