Toews returns strong for ‘Hawks

The hard hit that kept Jonathan Toews off the ice for the third period of Game 5 of the finals couldn’t stop Chicago’s captain from leading the Blackhawks to their second Stanley Cup championship in four seasons.

Toews scored Chicago’s first goal Monday night and set up the tying goal with 1:16 left in the third period as the Blackhawks rallied with two goals in a span of 17 seconds to beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.

”It’s been nerve-racking at times for us, a lot of ups and downs, but that’s playoff hockey for you,” Toews said. ”We always believed in the group we had. We knew we had something special here. It was just a matter of going out and showing it.”

The Blackhawks did just that, following their young captain to another title.

Toews was still on the ice at the end. He had the last shot of the game, scrambling from his hands and knees to slide the puck toward an empty net after Boston pulled goalie Tuukka Rask for an extra skater.

The shot missed, but ate up the final few seconds. Toews jumped back to his feet, turned around and headed full speed toward the other end where a swarm of teammates were celebrating the 4-2 series win.

”When you get the momentum rolling late in a game like that, it changes teams,” Toews said. ”You could see our jump, us start to believe, and we just fed off that. All that said, it’s still pretty unbelievable what happened.”

Toews didn’t play the final period on Saturday night when Chicago took a 3-2 series lead with a 3-1 win at home. He was back in the lineup Monday. Whatever had caused him to appear dazed on the Blackhawks bench two days earlier had cleared.

Boston led 1-0 after the first period before Toews and the Blackhawks slowly worked their way back into the game. Toews tied it 1-all with his third goal of the playoffs 4:24 into the second.

Milan Lucic gave Boston its second lead with a goal with 7:49 remaining in the third, but the Blackhawks continued to push.

Bryan Bickell tied it with 1:16 left off a pass from Toews after the Blackhawks had sent goalie Corey Crawford to the bench for an extra skater. Just 17 seconds later, Dave Bolland scored again for Chicago, and the Blackhawks held off the stunned Bruins from there.

”Unbelievable feeling and indescribable at the same time,” Toews said. ”Lot of heart, lot of hard work from this team and let me tell you – these guys deserve this.”

After the handshake line, Toews received the Stanley Cup from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, just as he did in 2010 when the Blackhawks clinched on the road in Game 6 at Philadelphia.

”You never know what can happen,” Toews said, ”so you don’t stop playing until the end.”