Jonathan Toews leaped into Marian Hossa's arms and yelled so loudly it threatened to drown out the 22,014 on hand at the United Center to witness either the end of the Blackhawks' season or what they hoped was the beginning of an epic comeback.
With an inspired effort from Toews, a suddenly resurgent power play and a plethora of crunching hits, the Hawks staved off elimination with a 4-1 victory over the Red Wings in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals Saturday night. The Hawks cut the Wings' lead in the best-of-seven series to 3-2 with Game 6 Monday night at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
"We knew that our backs are against the wall," Toews said. "When you're down three games to one, you have to push back, you have to do something and we did. Every single guy answered the call. It's fun to play that way when everyone is chipping in and playing for each other. There's not much we can't do when we play like that. We'll carry it into the next one."
Toews ended his personal frustrations with his first goal of the playoffs and along with Andrew Shaw's two scores, one from Bryan Bickell and strong goaltending from Corey Crawford,
the Hawks remain alive and kicking.
"We didn't want a great season like this to end like this," Shaw said. "We came out hard in the first and just took off with it."
Daniel Cleary scored for the Wings but it wasn't nearly enough as the high-flying Hawks offense peppered Jimmy Howard with 45 shots.
Bickell kicked off the scoring when he carried the puck into the Wings zone and sent a shot on Howard that the goalie saved. The rebound bounded to Patrick Kane, and his attempt also was thwarted, but Bickell, who had cruised around the net into open ice, jumped on that rebound and fired it into the open net.
After Cleary scored to tie it midway through the second, the Hawks' slumbering power play sprang to life. Shaw snapped a string of 12 consecutive failures with a man advantage when he redirected a long shot from Duncan Keith past Howard.
Toews then found the back of the net for the first time in the playoffs 2 minutes, 39 seconds later with the Hawks up a man. The captain took a pass from Hossa, kicked the puck to his stick and then ripped a shot that bounced off Howard's mask and ricocheted into the goal. A shout of exultation followed and all was right in the Hawks' world.
In the third, Shaw scored his second of the night when he put in a wraparound off a Viktor Stalberg shot to finish off the Wings.
"We're foolish to think that they were just going to give us that fourth game," Wings defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said. "They're a really good team. They deserved it more than we did."
The Hawks will look to ride the momentum when they take the ice for Game 6 in a hostile environment.
"We have to come out with the same intensity and same desperation and just keep doing what we did this game," Shaw said. "I think we should be good."