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ANAHEIM, Calif. – Jonathan Toews is the persona of the Chicago Blackhawks. Calm under pressure, confident on the ice, he has a motor that doesn’t stop. His tour de force performance at the end of the Blackhawks’ Game 5 OT loss to the Anaheim Ducks showed this.
Two goals in the final two minutes erased a 4-2 Ducks lead and sent the game to overtime, before the Blackhawks were vanquished by Matt Beleskey 45 seconds into the extra session.
As he stood in the visiting locker room at Honda Center, eloquently answering queries about his team, Toews seemed strangely composed. There was no panic in ‘Captain Serious.’ The task was obvious. Survive the next game at United Center on Wednesday, down 3-2 in the series, don’t even think about a possible Game 7. He got it, and he believes his team can prevail.
“We feel we’re a tough team to get rid of. Obviously the next game is a must-win for us. I think a lot of guys, most guys, everybody in this room definitely believe it’s when we play our best when our backs are against the wall,” Toews said. “We’re ready for that challenge. It’s do or die, but we have to move on, learn from the mistakes we made in this one, but really just throw everything we got at them.”
Toews for the double-cliché score in a quote with ‘do or die’ and ‘backs against the wall.’ DRINK!
Though Chicago lost the game, Toews fired a shot up Anaheim’s nose in the final two minutes. The Blackhawks will be an incredibly tough out in Game 6. It’s going to take everything from Anaheim to beat Chicago. The Ducks know this. But how will they take action?
“I mean, so putting them away, you have to play your butt off for 60 minutes,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said.
That’s a start.
Chicago has turned playoff survival this year into an art form. In Game 1 of its first-round series against Nashville, the Blackhawks were down 3-0, came back and won in overtime. They’ve won two three-overtime games this playoff and two double-OT contests.
But now comes their toughest test – one they haven’t dealt with in 2015: Staving off elimination against a team that’s deeper in talent, but lighter on experience.
The latter will be Chicago’s greatest asset in Game 6.
“I think for the most part, if we get down a goal or two or three as we did in this one, the one thing that does matter to us is our confidence, knowing we can find our way out of those tougher situations,” Toews said. “I don’t think any team cares how they win the game.”
Watching Toews those final two minutes was like watching hockey art. He simplified his game to its purist form. He got the puck deep in the offensive zone. He fired shots on Anaheim’s net at any chance he got.
His first goal came on a one-timer from near the face off circle and his second was just a shot from the goal line that beat Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen.
Not only is Toews really good at hockey, he’s smart. You’re not going to score if you don’t shoot. He gets that, especially when you desperately need two goals to keep a game alive.
“Jonny comes up with two gigantic goals and gave us a chance to win,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think his career in big game moments, Jonny will let them speak for themselves.”
In the playoffs the Blackhawks almost always get a good tame out of Toews – if he scores or not.
That effort at the end of Chicago’s loss may not have led to a victory, but could push a charge for Game 6.
Then again, in this series of strange momentum swings and non-swings overtime losses and comebacks, who knows.
But as long as there's Toews, there's hope.
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