Toews was ineffective in Game 4 of the second-round series against the Minnesota Wild on Friday. He had a season-worst 27.6 Corsi percentage; the Blackhawks had eight shots for and 21 shots against with him on the ice in 5-on-5 situations, according to extraskater.com. He was also held without a point and had a minus-1 rating.
Just a game later, the Wild couldn’t contain Toews.
He had a 76 Corsi percentage, his sixth highest of the season, and the Blackhawks had 19 shots for and six against with him on the ice.
One of those shots came when he battled in front of the net for a puck, and he was able to knock it in. The goal proved to be the winner in the Blackhawks’ 2-1 triumph in Game 5. It was his fourth game winner of the playoffs and spotted the Blackhawks a 3-2 advantage in the series.
Toews’ teammates used a variety of adjectives to describe his play.
“He’s unbelievable,” forward Marian Hossa said. “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. Tonight was a great example.
“He goes hard to the net and we had the puck there and then put it in the net.”
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford agreed.
“An amazing goal,” 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, and that’s what Jon did. A great goal right there.
“He’s done it a bunch of times, so many you tend to forget a little bit. He’s definitely relentless, and scores in so many different ways he’s hard to stop. Our best players have been that way throughout these playoffs and, again tonight, he got us a big goal when we needed it.”
Aside from having their crowd behind them, the Blackhawks also had the advantage of having last change on lines while at home. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville used that Sunday to keep Toews away from matching up with Wild forward Mikko Koivu and his line.
Koivu and his line matched up a bulk of the time against Toews in Games 3 and 4 in Minnesota and limited his chances. Toews only faced Koivu about three minutes on Sunday and was often up against Zach Parise, Jason Pominville and Mikael Granlund in Game 5.
“We’ve had the matchup here,” Quenneville said. “We’ll see what happens there.”
Quenneville thought Toews’ play improved as the game went on. He also believed putting him together with Patrick Sharp and Hossa brought the best out of him.
“I thought he had some pucks around the net,” Quenneville said of Toews. “They sustained some pucks. I thought he was better as the game progressed. That line’s got some top players, and it’s an important line for us and important shifts for us. They scored the big goal for us, as well.”