Toews, Darling stand tall in Blackhawks' 2-1 win over Canes
This has been anything but a spectacular season for Jonathan Toews.
Other than a mini hot stretch where he scored 4 goals in five games early in the season, Toews has been almost nonexistent from a scoring standpoint … as well as completely nonexistent for nine straight games as he dealt with an upper-body injury.
Well, don't look now but the Blackhawks' captain might just be heating up.
Toews -- thanks to some gorgeous tic-tac-toe passing by Vinnie Hinostroza and Marian Hossa -- scored into a wide-open net 12:13 into the first period Friday night, and the Hawks went on to claim a 2-1 victory over Carolina at the United Center for their second win in as many nights.
Artemi Panarin scored the Hawks' other goal at 13:29 of the second period, and Scott Darling was flat-out spectacular in net, making 39 saves.
Toews has now 3 goals in the last seven games, but just as important as the scoring is how he looks on the ice.
"I'm trying to build that confidence whether pucks go in our not," Toews said. "Usually your confidence builds when you start getting lucky and things start going in for you. Then you start loosening up and getting that creativity back in your game."
If Toews keeps going at his current pace -- he has 7 goals in 33 games -- he would finish with just 15 scores. The big reason for that stems from a 7.7 shooting percentage that almost defies logic for one of the league's best players.
"Can't say that things are clicking my way," said Toews, whose career-worst shooting percentage is 12.4. "But just got to find a solution. When things aren't working for your game just try and improve all the little details.
"What are you going to do? You keep putting pucks on net, you keep creating. Odds are eventually you're going to get some lucky ones."
Toews and Hossa have been waiting for anyone to take advantage of the left-wing opening on their line since Brandon Saad was traded to Columbus after the 2015 Cup run. It's beginning to look like that person is Hinostroza, the rookie from Bartlett, who has started on the top line in five of the last six games.
"Vinnie's got the ingredients to be that kind of guy with his speed and quickness and complementing those guys, be it off the rush or hitting holes," coach Joel Quenneville said.
Darling's biggest save during a magnificent night came with the Hawks on the power play when he did the splits to kick away a shot by Jordan Staal after Staal received a pass from former Hawks winger Joakim Nordstrom.
"They told us before the game their PK is top of the league in short-handed goals," Darling said. "So they're not just going to dump it in. … We were ready for it.
"Nordy made a great pass across. … Luckily it was a long enough pass I was able to get over there and get a piece of it."
The Hawks are now 25-12-5 and they hold a 3-point lead over Minnesota in the Central Division, but the Wild has played five fewer games.
Carolina fell to 17-15-7, and 6-11-6 on the road.