A pair of overtime goals has provided Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks a bit of relief to start a stretch without one of their other big stars. A meeting with the Winnipeg Jets might help their offense exhale a bit more.
The Blackhawks head to the road Thursday night looking to win their fifth straight game while ending their scoring troubles against a Jets teams that has allowed plenty of goals recently.
Chicago (6-3-0) made the most of its last two goals by scratching out a pair of 1-0 overtime wins over Tampa Bay and Anaheim on Saturday and Monday, respectively.
The victories completed the Blackhawks’ 4-0 homestand, the final three wins of which came without last season’s Conn Smythe Trophy winner Duncan Keith, who had right knee surgery last week and will miss four to six weeks.
Chicago, though, has started to more resemble the team that won the Stanley Cup in June without its top defenseman, thanks to the emergence of a couple of its other key players.
Toews’ two overtime winners gave him his first goals of the season after he totaled three assists in Chicago’s first seven games. Toews scored 17 seconds and :51 into the 3-on-3 extra periods, something the Blackhawks hope will ignite his offense.
And then there is Corey Crawford, who has stopped 98 of 101 shots in his past four starts for a .970 save percentage. He was in net for both shutouts, matching his total for all last season.
Crawford, who is 5-4-0 with a 2.18 goals-against average lifetime against the Jets, has a 1.57 GAA and .943 save percentage this season, each easily career bests.
The Blackhawks became the first team to win consecutive games by a 1-0 score in overtime with the same goal scorer and goaltender.
"It’s not very often you’re going to have two games exactly like that in back-to-back fashion, at home, against two top teams and you come out on top," coach Joel Quenneville told the team’s official website. "So, we’re very pleased with the results and what we gave up."
The defensive end of the ice has not gone as well for the Jets (5-3-1), who are 1-2-1 in their last four games while surrendering 16 goals during that stretch.
Ondrej Pavelec is 0-2-1 with a 3.36 GAA in his last three starts, and has had all kinds of problems against the Blackhawks. He’s 0-4-2 with a 4.50 GAA in six career meetings, yielding at least four goals in each game.
Backup Michael Hutchinson may be the better option since he’s won all three of his starts this season, and is 3-0-1 with a 1.23 GAA in four lifetime starts against Chicago.
Toews, a Winnipeg native, has always performed well in his hometown, tallying five goals and 10 points in six career games there.
Patrick Kane has contributed four goals and four assists in five games in Winnipeg.
Pavelec stopped 17 of 18 shots over the first two periods against Los Angeles on Tuesday and finished with 28 saves in a 4-1 loss, the final two goals coming into an empty net.
”It’s frustrating,” Pavelec said. ”We played a really good game for two periods and we just stopped doing the right things in the third.”
The Blackhawks have never lost in Winnipeg, winning all four matchups there since the Jets moved from Atlanta for the 2011-12 season. Chicago has won seven consecutive road games against the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise.