Toews does it again for Hawks with game-winner
Marian Hossa has seen it before, but it never ceases to amaze him what Jonathan Toews can do when everything is on the line.
How he can almost will his team to win on pure effort and desire like he did Sunday night at the United Center when he out-efforted everyone to score the game-winner in a 2-1 Blackhawks win in a beyond crucial Game 5 showdown against the Wild.
"He's unbelievable," Hossa said of the captain. "That's why he's a superstar.
"He's a great leader on and off the ice, and he finds a way to score big goals."
In a postseason full of big goals, Toews came up with by far his biggest early in the third period on what will be a shift to remember.
It started with the captain crunching Mikeal Granlund along the end boards to keep the puck in play, and ended up with him at the side of the net outscrambling the Wild D to knock in a rebound of a Hossa shot.
"An amazing goal," Hawks goalie Corey Crawford said. "They play hard defensively; they box out pretty good. We need to get pucks and bodies to the net and score on rebounds or screen shots.
"Battle in front of the net -- that's what Jonathan did."
Toews' goal marked his league-leading fourth game-winner of the playoffs. He also now paces the franchise with 10 career playoff game-winning goals.
"He's done it a bunch of times, so many times that you tend to forget a little bit," Crawford said. "He's definitely relentless and scores in so many different ways that he's hard to stop.
"Our best players have been that throughout these playoffs."
That would have to include Crawford as well. He stopped 27 of 28 shots, including all 14 he faced in a swarming third period by the Wild.
"Corey was rock solid," coach Joel Quenneville said.
It was quite a final 40 minutes for the Hawks after a lackluster opening 20 that actually brought a smattering of boos from the huge crowd when the horn finally sounded.
The period featured one of the Hawks' worst power plays of the season and saw them were outshot (8-6), outworked and outscored by the Wild, courtesy of an end-to-end rush by Erik Haula.
But, man, would that change over the next 40 minutes, and it began with who else? -- big Bryan Bickell.
Bickell planted himself in front of the net and deflected a Patrick Kane blast past Ilya Bryzgalov midway through the second period to bring back hope at the Madhouse.
It was Bickell's 15th playoff goal over the past two seasons, which puts him atop all NHL players in that category.
It remained a 1-1 game until early in the third when Toews provided the dagger that now has the never-say-die Wild a loss away from elimination. It's the exact same situation Minnesota was in after five games of their first round series against Colorado, a series they eventually won in seven.
"It's similar in that it stinks," Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said of the comparison. "It stinks to lose a game like this, and obviously when you lose, you're frustrated, you're mad.
"But I think there's been enough in this series where we should feel confident still. That said, we also recognize that we'd better be ready."
Because he knows the Hawks, and Toews, will be.