A night of redemption

For most of Game 5 of the Blackhawks’ playoff series against the Phoenix Coyotes, you couldn’t find Jonathan Toews.

At the end, you couldn’t miss him.

Uncharacteristically, the Coyotes made a mistake, icing the puck 2:38 into overtime to give the Hawks an offensive zone faceoff. Toews won the draw, the puck skittering to the boards. Then, suddenly, it caromed into the right circle to the Hawks’ captain, who is still probably fighting the effects of a concussion.

But Toews couldn’t have been more clear-headed on this play. Remarkably, he had some time and space in a dangerous area, a rarity for the Hawks in this series. Instead of panicking, Toews sized up the situation like he was shooting one of those candy commercials.

Firing from the right circle, Toews beat Phoenix goalie Mike Smith to the stick side, ringing the puck high off the far post for a 2-1 win at 2:44 of the extra period that kept alive the Hawks' playoff life.

And so, after the fifth straight overtime game of this series, the Hawks come home for Game 6 on Monday. They will battle elimination again -- this sounds like Vancouver last year, doesn’t it? -- and they will battle the strange odds of a series in which the visiting team has won four of the five.

Joel Quenneville had called out his big names the day before. The Hawks coach said he needed more from them. Toews heard. Toews responded. The Hawks’ best player hadn’t scored since early in Game 1, a lifetime ago, it seemed. Toews was getting too much ice time to be that quiet. He needed this one.

You know who else needed it? Corey Crawford, that’s who.

The Hawks goalie needed overtime, specifically a win in overtime. Crawford made 17 stops in regulation in Game 5, but then, he has made a lot of stops in regulation. It was overtime that had killed Crawford. He was coming off consecutive games in which he had allowed awful goals that became game-winners in overtime.

Mikkel Boedker was the villain both times. But not Saturday night. Crawford made the only save he was required to make in overtime and stoned the Coyotes after Gilbert Brule beat him on an odd-man break early in the second period.

You know else also needed this one? Viktor Stalberg. The Hawks forward had taken four penalties before the game was 44 minutes old. It was surprising he was getting shifts after the way he had sabotaged his teammates in a must-win.

But look at that: Stalberg battled along the boards after Toews won that critical faceoff, doing enough to help pop the puck loose so Toews could play hero.

You know who else needed this one? Nick Leddy. The young defenseman had played a lot in this series, but he had not necessarily played well. He was one of the goats on the play that lost Game 4.

But look at that: As the Hawks stepped up their urgent play in the third period, Leddy blasted a knuckling puck over a screened Smith midway through the third period to get the Hawks even and set up overtime.

It was a redemptive night for a lot of Hawks -- all of them, really.

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • 40-year-old O'Donnell not ready for Hawks' season to end
    40-year-old O'Donnell not ready for Hawks' season to end

    GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The prospect of the season ending means different things to different players.

  • Torres gets off easy
    Torres gets off easy

    Raffi Torres got a 25-game suspension for his dirty, despicable, flying hit that knocked out Marian Hossa in the first period of Game 3 of the Blackhawks-Coyotes playoff series.

  • Rain on Sunday and relatively cool week ahead
    Rain on Sunday and relatively cool week ahead

    With low pressure moving through the Chicago area from the west, Sunday looks to be a cloudy, windy, cool day and the prelude to a cool week ahead. Highs on Sunday will struggle to rise out of the 50s with a strong east to southeast wind holding lakefront readings closer to the 50-degree mark....

  • 1 killed, 4 wounded in city shootings
    1 killed, 4 wounded in city shootings

    One man was killed, and at least four others were wounded in shootings across the city since Saturday afternoon.

  • Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators: Game 2 in Hawks players statistics
    Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators: Game 2 in Hawks players statistics

    Well that escalated quickly. The Predators got off to an early lead against the Hawks and kept that momentum throughout the game, exploding in the third period for a 6-2 win against the Hawks. Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp were the only two Hawks to score in Friday's game. Here's a breakdown of...

  • Baconfest Chicago 2015
    Baconfest Chicago 2015

    Sweet, salty, savory and satisfying. That just about sums up Baconfest 2015 in all its glory. With all three sessions of Baconfest sold out, event planners expected 4,500 guests to indulge in about 8,000 pounds of bacon. More than 170 restaurants served up deliciously creative bacon-inspired dishes...