The essential difference between the Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues in their Stanley Cup Playoff series: The Blackhawks have been here before.
They've faced the pressure. They've won big games on the road. They've made the big plays. Especially Jonathan Toews, who has two Stanley Cups and two gold medals to his credit.
The Blackhawks captain was given a chance to win Game 5 in overtime on Friday night, in a 2-2 series. He didn’t miss.
Toews ended Game 5 at 7:36 of overtime – the fourth game in this extraordinary series to go to the extra sessions – to give the Blackhawks at 3-2 victory and a 3-2 series lead. After a David Backes shot was saved by Corey Crawford, Duncan Keith flicked the puck out of the defensive zone to a streaking Toews, who had come off the bench on a change. He went in alone on Ryan Miller and ended it.
It was Toews’ second goal of the playoffs and second game-winning goal of the series, having previously scored the eventual game-winner in Game 3, in the first period. Toews now has six points in the series.
For St. Louis, the opportunity was there to take back control of the series after consecutive losses in Chicago. They were back on home ice, had captain David Backes back in the lineup for the first time since Game 2, threw their bodies around against Chicago and were energized by a goal of the year candidate by T.J. Oshie.
Now they’ll have to win consecutive games against the defending champs to advance to the division final.