Virtually every day of the last two series, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews has been asked about his scoring — or rather his lack of it.
Toews had one goal in the postseason going into Wednesday night’s Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden.
That came in his 10th contest — Game 5 against Detroit in the Western Conference semifinals. Since then, he has gone through a protracted drought. He was trying to make up for for his lack of scoring punch by excelling in other aspects of his game and fortunately for him, his teammates came through as the Blackhawks knocked off three conference foes en route to reaching the Cup Final with the Bruins.
In Game 4, with his team trailing in the series two games to one, the big guns came to play. Toews and Patrick Kane potted thier first goals of the series as the Blackhawks won in overtime, 6-5.
One of the reasons for Chicago’s success was coach Joel Quenneville’s decision to reunite Toews, Kane, and Bryan Bickell.
“I like that line,’’ said Quenneville. “They seem to have some chemistry. Scoring certainly helps. Everybody on that line brings something different to the party. Bicks, off the rush, can shoot. Kaner has possession. Jonny gets through. It’s a nice combination. So it was nice to see them back and productive, too. I’m sure they’re excited about returning together. Jonny had the puck more today. I thought he was more friendly with it. That line was dangerous, be it off the rush, in the zone. Obviously, scoring has got to help him. The excitement of that line, Kaner in possession, Bick around with the big body, they scored some different kinds of goals but Jonny had a nice night.’’
Toews and Kane scored in the second period, both at even strength just over two minutes apart.
Toews gave Chicago a 2-1 lead at 6:33 when he redirected in a shot by defenseman Michal Rozsival. At 8:41, Kane made it 3-1 when he sent in a backhander from the right circle.
All along, Toews called himself on the carpet about wanting to be more accountable, about wanting to contribute more. On Wednesday, he finally did just that.
“All our forwards were really keying on winning [battles] tonight,’’ said Toews, who outbattled Bruins captain Zdeno Chara as the winning goal was being scored. “We made a point of it in our locker room. We scored a couple of goals off that. Kaner’s goal came from two guys being in front with traffic and when you’ve got two guys going to the net, you’re bound to get that rebound. Kaner got the second rebound and a big shot by [Brent Seabrook on the winner]. Same thing on [Patrick Sharp’s goal that gave the Blackhawks a 5-4 lead]. We were just around the net. We were getting inside and we found the rebounds. If they are ugly goals, we don’t care. We’ll find a way. That’s something we need to keep doing.’’
The Blackhawks had leads of 1-0, 3-1, 4-2, and 5-4, but let the Bruins climb back into the game.
“You think you have a good lead at 3-1 and they make it 3-2 and we score a big goal the next shift to make it 4-2 and then they scored on a power play,’’ said Kane, who has seven goals in the postseason. “It was just kind of back and forth the rest of the game and I guess it was just our turn to score. It was a fun game to play but at the same time, you want to preserve those leads and play better when you do have those, especially late in the game.’’
This was the most wide open game of the series by far.
“Every time we scored, we had a couple of two-goal leads, I wouldn’t say we got comfortable but we definitely need to focus on being smarter and better defensively in that situation,’’ said Toews. “We let them bounce back too quickly. When we get that momentum, we’ve got to hold onto it a little bit longer. There were just a couple of defensive plays here and there that if we get shooting lanes and we don’t allow the shots from the point to come in, we can do a better job in front of [goaltender Corey Crawford] and help him out a little bit better and keep that momentum. Sometimes it’s not easy, especially in this building.’’
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.