The hero? Who else, but Chicago captain Jonathan Toews.
Toews scored the game-winner late in the third period, in his first game back from injury, as he returned from a shoulder problem ahead of schedule. Sounds like a movie in there somewhere.
“I’ll take them anyway you can,” he said afterwards.
Toews played 19:45, had six shots on net, two points, and helped the Hawks earn a 50 percent winning percentage in the faceoff circle. That’s the first time they’ve been that good since he went down four games ago. He did it all, as per usual.
“He brings a lot to the table,” teammate Duncan Keith said. “I think one of the biggest things is his grittiness and ability to play down low and wear on their defense. And the ability to play in front of the net. Sure enough he gets the game winner being right in the paint. Great play.”
The winning goal was scored when Drew Doughty of the Kings tried to clear a puck Brent Seabrook flipped over Jonathan Quick. It landed in the slot. Doughty’s clearing pass hit Toews’ stick and went in the net.
“I saw it just kind of flip over the goalie’s head and I don’t think he knew where it was and I tried to get to the front of the net,” Toews explained. “As lucky as a goal as I’ve ever seen.”
Toews was told Doughty was the one who tried to clear it.
“No wonder,” Toews laughed. “I was just sitting on the bench and he yelled at me, ‘it was a lucky goal.’ I didn’t realize it was him trying to clear it. I’ll have to give him a hard time for that one.”
It’s easy to laugh after the Hawks were able to recover from an extremely poor start. The Kings looked like they might blow the visitors out but a late power play goal in the first period, by Marian Hossa, changed the tone of the game.
“Its days like this when you come out on top but you still have to look at the mistakes you make and try to get better at those things,” Toews said. “It just goes to show what we can do against good teams. We played smart for the most part but there are still some mistakes where we’re giving up some un-earned scoring chances against.”
So for three games without their captain, the Hawks looked lost and didn’t get a point out of any of them. His first night back, they break the skid and win the game.
“Gigantic effort by him and that line,” Joel Quenneville said. “Necessary win. Huge win for us.”
Fade to black.