Jonathan Toews waited just long enough before lifting the shot past Frederik Andersen.
Just like that, the Blackhawks captain, who hadn’t scored since the Minnesota Wild series, had found the back of the net again. The pressure to score was off — for that moment, anyway.
“I kind of feel that pressure all the time. I know it's there. Most of it I put on myself,” said Toews following the Blackhawks’ 5-4 double-overtime victory on Saturday night. “Just in some ways, (I’ve) got to stay patient and not show any frustration or show any sign of anything snowballing in the wrong direction for my own game.”
Toews and Brandon Saad ended their scoring droughts on Saturday — Toews hadn’t scored since Game 2 against the Wild on May 3, Saad since Game 1 on May 1. Whether it’s those two or other top-six players, from Patrick Sharp to Marian Hossa to Patrick Kane, they’re expected to produce more this time of year. The Blackhawks’ top line had a strong night, from those two goals — Saad’s short-handed score gave the team a 1-0 lead — to the offensive-zone time they had.
“Both those guys had monster games, not just production-wise, but their pace off the rush, possession-wise,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “They were dangerous.”
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Production hasn’t been easy for the Blackhawks in this series, regardless of player. Only Brad Richards has a point in each of the first four games (goal, three assists). Part of the point struggles has been the Ducks keeping the Blackhawks from getting close to Andersen. The Ducks goaltender has been strong, too. The five goals Andersen gave up in Game 5 equaled the number of goals he’d given up the previous three games combined.
“That last game was a big step to find the back of the net against Andersen and really see he is kind of human,” Bryan Bickell said. “Because he’s been standing on his head as of late.”
Every player feels the pressure to score this time of year but none more than the top guys. Saad and Toews ended their slumps on Saturday night. Others have come close to doing the same. The pressure never really dissipates, even when that goal comes. But the confidence grows, and that bodes well the rest of the way.
“I think as a line with Hoss and Saad, we generated a lot. Finally got a bounce. That's what I was waiting for,” Toews said. “Hopefully I can continue that confidence that scoring gives you, continue to make big plays.”