Toews, Kane combine for overtime winner against Avalanche

Chicago’s top two forwards were at it again.

A couple of blinks and you might have missed it.

Just nine seconds into 3-on-3 overtime, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews sprung a 2-on-1 and Toews converted, giving the Chicago Blackhawks a 2-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night at the United Center.

Toews kicked the opening draw back to Duncan Keith, who passed the puck out wide to Kane. The two forwards charged over the blue line, and a perfect saucer pass from Kane set up Toews for a one-timer that he buried past Semyon Varlamov.

In typical fashion of late, Chicago struck first when Erik Gustaffson, who signed a two-year contract extension earlier in the day, fired one towards the net intended for Kane but instead found Patrik Nemeth’s skate for a redirect into the Colorado net.

The Avalanche got the equalizer in the second period on a power play goal from Nathan MacKinnon, who continues to set the NHL ablaze in a season worthy of Hart Trophy consideration.

For a moment in the second period, the Hawks thought they had a 2-1 lead when Brandon Saad converted on a spin-o-rama pass from Kane. But the goal was overturned when it was ruled that Saad kicked the puck off of Varlamov and into the net:

How the NHL war room made that conclusion, electing to overturn what was called a goal on the ice, seems questionable at best.

Let’s get the reaction of the Blackhawks coaching staff:

But the Hawks won anyway, thanks to the Toews/Kane duo in overtime and one heck of a game by goaltender Jean-Francois Berube. More on that and a few other things below:

3 Thoughts

Thumbs-up on the forward lines

I like what coach Joel Quenneville has done with the Hawks forwards over the last few games. I love the idea of putting together Toews, Saad and Kane on one line. If there’s any player who can help Toews and Saad get some goals off of their constant possession, it’s Kane. And the line of DeBrincat-Schmaltz-Hinostroza puts three of the Hawks quickest, youngest and most exciting players together. There was a shift in the second period when that line got trapped in its own zone, but it’s usually generating plenty of scoring chances because of the aforementioned speed and skill that all three players possess. Those two lines, alone, could make for some interesting moments down the stretch.

Berube has been solid, hasn’t he?

In two of the last three starts made by Berube, the Hawks have won. And the game they lost was a disastrous outing against the San Jose Sharks when the Chicago defense was just a rumor. Berube is just 26 years old and was playing well in Rockford before an injury ended up in Jeff Glass getting the call-up when Corey Crawford first went down. While Anton Forsberg hasn’t been terrible in net, he’s made enough mistakes, at times, to prevent him from locking down the backup role behind Crawford for next season. And if Berube is going to keep turning in performances like this one (33 saves on 34 shots against), he’ll earn more consideration.

What’s up with Anthony Duclair?

It’s already starting to feel like Duclair’s time in Chicago will not be very long. He’s got just one goal in his last 13 games and a total of three points over that span. While skating on the fourth line against Colorado, Duclair saw just 8:18 of ice time, the second lowest number on the team (Patrick Sharp, his linemate, was at 8:14). Duclair has a positive CF% of 53.76, but he’s on the negative side of the high-danger chance percentage at 45.74%. It just doesn’t seem like enough things are happening when Duclair is on the ice. And if that doesn’t change in this last month, then Duclair may be plying his trade elsewhere next season.

3 Stars

  1. Jean-Francois Berube (CHI) — 33 saves
  2. Jonathan Toews (CHI) — Game-winning goal in overtime
  3. Nathan MacKinnon (COL) — 1 goal