Jonathan Toews talked earlier Tuesday about times this season when he was frustrated, when the points just weren’t coming.
Well, they’re coming now.
Toews recorded three points, including his 250th career goal, as the Blackhawks beat the Arizona Coyotes, 6-2, on Tuesday night. The Blackhawks remain in third place in the Central Division with 101 points. Dallas and St. Louis — each with 105 points — were idle Tuesday and remained first and second, respectively.
It was another point-heavy night for some of the Blackhawks. Artemi Panarin recorded another two assists, giving him 10 points in his last three games. Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist.
With a good finish came bad news. Artem Anisimov left midway through the second period and did not return after Antoine Vermette hit him along the boards. Anisimov was down for a few moments before heading to the locker room. Coach Joel Quenneville said he’ll know more on Wednesday about how Anisimov is doing. The Blackhawks’ injury list is growing — Marian Hossa is out with a lower-body injury, while Andrew Shaw and Corey Crawford are sidelined by upper-body injuries.
As far as this game, however, the Blackhawks liked a lot of what they did, especially the latest scoring eruption. They still gave up two goals late, but this was nothing like Sunday’s finish against the Boston Bruins, in which they were off for about the final 20 minutes.
“The one line's been dynamic in the three games as far as generating off the rush or on the power play or in zone. They’ve really been dangerous. They have the finish, and that line leads our offense and kicked in some other goals as well,” Quenneville said of the second line. “I like the way we played for the most part tonight. We did some things in the last three games when you look at the offense, five (goals), six and six. We know we can score; the ongoing challenge is to check.”
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For Toews, it’s another milestone. The team’s celebrated a few of them lately, from Kane hitting 100 points to Quenneville recording his 800th coaching victory. But Toews took goal No. 250 in stride.
“Halfway to Hoss, I guess; lot of work to do there. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, I guess,” Toews said to laughs. “I guess that’s cool. I don’t think you’re ever thinking of those things. At the end of the day other people remind you once in a while, but it’s great to see a couple of our guys, and even Q, reach these milestones the last couple of games. Going forward, we can focus on what matters.”
What matters is that the Blackhawks are playing good hockey heading into the postseason, and they’ve been trending in the right direction. Special teams were big for them, as they scored three power-play goals and killed off six Coyotes advantages, including two 5-on-3s (12 seconds and 50 seconds).
“Yeah, it’s obviously really nice,” said Trevor van Riemsdyk of the special teams. “We want to be clicking on all cylinders this time of year. Obviously to get some contributions of the power play there, and to kill off some penalties is nice.”
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Richard Panik, who got a top-line opportunity in Hossa’s absence, got the Blackhawks’ offense going with his sixth of the season 5:16 into the game. Toews’ short-handed goal, which came not long after the Coyotes’ brief 5-on-3 power play ended, put the Blackhawks up 2-0. Kane scored his 44th goal of the season, a power-play goal, for a 3-0 lead. The Blackhawks added two more power-play goals on that Vermette five-minute boarding (both from Andrew Ladd) to pretty much put this one out of reach.
The Blackhawks like the direction in which they’re going. Yes, they have their toughest test coming Thursday when they host the St. Louis Blues. But they’re getting goals, they’re getting the most out of guys with several players sidelined, and their captain is getting in a groove at the right time.
“You can work as hard as you want. And I think when you score, it just gives you energy, and it's obviously a mental thing but that was the way it was again tonight,” Toews said. “So it's nice to get that boost. I want to keep growing my game and just try and use the things I need to learn from this season, and use them in the playoffs. So I'm feeling good about that.”