Toews is Chicago's leading man

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:33 AM ET

Jonathan Toews continues to establish himself as one of the premier players and leaders in the NHL.

The 22-year-old captain of the Chicago Blackhawks has his team one win away from consecutive berths in the Western Conference final.

The pride of St. Vital counted his first playoff hat trick, with all three coming on the power play, and tied a franchise record for points in a playoff game with five as the Blackhawks earned a 7-4 victory over the Canucks in Vancouver on Friday night.

His efforts helped the Hawks take a 3-1 stranglehold in their best-of-7 series, which shifts back to Chicago on Sunday.

“You work hard over an extended amount of games and maybe sometimes you don’t get those breaks and it gets frustrating,” Toews told the Chicago Sun-Times Saturday after the Blackhawks returned from Vancouver.

“But it’s playoff hockey. You have to find a way to stick with it and eventually you’re going to cash in and help your team in a big way like that. That’s what I’ve been trying to do.

“Obviously getting lucky around the net, whether it’s my linemates scoring goals or myself it doesn’t really matter. We want to keep that going.”

Toews moved past Sidney Crosby and Johan Franzen to take over the Stanley Cup playoff scoring lead going into Saturday’s action — not bad for a guy playing his third season in the NHL.

The only other guys to record five points in a post-season game for the Hawks — Stan Mikita and Steve Larmer.

“Jonny’s a special player,” Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville told the Sun-Times. “You think that he kind of epitomizes what leadership is all about. When the stakes get higher he seems to rise to the occasion and answer all questions as far as what he’s capable of doing. He seems to relish the environment.”

That was certainly the case at the Vancouver Olympics, as Toews lead the victorious Canucks in scoring and was named the tournament’s best forward.

“It seems like we’re always talking about Jonny and how well he’s playing and how he always steps up in the big games,” Hawks forward Patrick Sharp told the Sun-Times. “It’s not a surprise to me or any of my teammates that he always comes through. That’s why he’s our leader. He’s great in all areas. Everywhere from faceoffs to putting the puck in the net to keeping it out.”

Toews understands the fourth win in a series is always the toughest to get.

“We’re very happy where we are right now, but we’re going to try our best to better ourselves and play our best game of the series because we know that’s what it’s going to take to put this team away,” said Toews.

Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault called out goalie Roberto Luongo (who has given up 11 goals in the past two losses) after Friday’s game and didn’t retract the statement on Saturday.

“Roberto and our team, the last two games, we’ve been the second-best team on the ice. This is a team game — the goaltender is a big part of it,” Vigneault told QMI Agency. “He’s been in this situation before. I’ve got a lot of faith in him, I’ve got a lot of confidence in him, and I know he’s going to do the job for us.”

— with files from Randy Sportak

ken.wiebe@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos