Toews' game-winner nets Blackhawks at OT win over Columbus
Over the course of a season, not every victory -- or every goal, for that matter -- is going to be pretty.
The Blackhawks can attest to both of those facts in spades after clawing their way past Columbus 3-2 at the United Center on Friday when Jonathan Toews scored 46 seconds into overtime.
Toews' first goal of the season came when the puck bounced off his left leg after Patrick Kane's initial shot was saved by goaltender Elvis Merzlikins.
"If that's the way I've got to score to get things going, I'll take it," Toews said after the Hawks improved to 2-2-1.
Drake Caggiula and Alex DeBrincat notched the other goals, and Robin Lehner registered his first victory with the Hawks after making 37 saves.
This game was a lesson in patience and perseverance for everyone on coach Jeremy Colliton's squad.
The Blue Jackets (3-4-0) controlled much of the first period, outshooting the Hawks 15-10. Lehner was under constant fire, but stepped up and managed to turn away numerous high-quality chances.
"It could have been 3, 4-nothing early on," Toews said. "He made some big stops -- couple 2-on-1s, a couple breakaways. He was standing tall there."
Also standing tall was the Hawks' special teams as they went 4-for-4 on the penalty kill and notched a huge power-play goal when DeBrincat banged home a Kane pass 8:08 into the third period.
Going forward, the Hawks must start creating more offensively. Too many times pucks are mishandled or flat-out stripped, and passes aren't hitting their marks. Then, when an opportunity does present itself, an extra pass is made when a shot would suffice.
That's where Caggiula deserves some credit for not forcing the puck to Toews in the first period. He instead recognized that his captain was well covered and unleashed a shot that clanked off the crossbar and into the net.
As for Toews, whose 2 points this season have come in overtime and on an assist into an empty net, he wouldn't admit to being frustrated with his slow start.
"More just pressing to create more," he said. "I've had some chances but not that many.
"So gotta be better with the puck. Keep pucks down low, just play a little heavier on it and try to get it up to our D-men on the blue line (so they) can get some shots."
It must start soon because two of the top teams in the league come to the United Center next in Washington (5-2-2) and Vegas (5-3-0).
"Sometimes it's nice to learn some lessons when you win," Colliton said. "That's probably the case tonight. We have a little momentum and hopefully we can continue that."
The Hawks recalled forward Kirby Dach from his conditioning stint in Rockford. Dach did not record any points in his three games with the IceHogs.