By Adam Hoge-
UNITED CENTER (CBS) A goal? Check.
A power play goal? Check.
A power play goal from Jonathan Toews? Check.
After three straight games of frustration, it all came together for the Blackhawks Saturday night in a 4-1 win over the Red Wings that kept their season alive.
All week long the Blackhawks preached patience. They said they were happy with their play after losing Game 3 and they reiterated that after another defeat in Game 4.
The problem was, they only scored a grand total of one goal in those two games and were facing an unlikely elimination in Game 5 Saturday night.
“I’ve been saying it over and over the last couple days that if you stay positive and you stick with it, things have to turn your way eventually and they did tonight,” Toews said.
And no one needed to convert that positive attitude into points more than the captain. So after the Blackhawks scored their first goal in over 120 minutes of ice time and then added their first power play goal in over 264 minutes of ice time, Toews finally broke through with his first goal of the postseason to give the Hawks a commanding 3-1 lead.
“It was good to see him get the monkey off his back and get the goal,” Brent Seabrook said. “I think he’ll start rolling from here.”
All the Blackhawks needed to do Saturday night was win. It didn’t matter how. But the game actually played out as well as it could have as they seemingly got past all the hurdles that have been holding them back in this series. The pressure had built to its highest point of the season.
“For sure I put more pressure on myself,” Toews said. “Considering we only scored two goals or whatever it was in three games and you feel like in big time situations that you need to find a way to do something. And if you do it’s going to give your team energy.”
And now the Blackhawks hope it gives them enough energy to pull off an unlikely comeback.
Maybe it’s possible to win a series without a good power play, and maybe it’s possible to win a series without your best player producing, but there’s no way you can erase a 3-1 deficit without those two components working. Breaking through on the power play and getting Toews on the board was not only important for Saturday night’s win, but also for the confidence to complete a potential comeback in this series.
An ugly win may have accomplished the short term goal of getting back to Detroit Monday, but the Blackhawks did much more than that Saturday night. They snatched back the momentum and reestablished themselves as the better team in this series.
“We gotta go back to Detroit and win a game,” head coach Joel Quenneville said. “We got the momentum back on our side so let’s go in there and keep it.”
The hardest part of the potential comeback comes Monday, but the Blackhawks now have an opponent that might be looking over its shoulder with a little more nervousness.
One down. Two to go.
Adam is the Sports Editor for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, Blackhawks, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHoge and read more of his columns here.