WINNIPEG—Jonathan Toews knows style points don’t matter much this late in the season. All that counts is getting the win.Toews deflected in Niklas Hjalmarsson’s long shot with 31 seconds left in regulation as the Blackhawks defeated the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 on Sunday.
”We’re going to have to win games in dramatic fashion sometimes, especially this time of year,” said Toews, who scored his 25th goal. ”They’re not going to be pretty and winning games by two or three goals, so we’re going to have to find ways to squeak them out.”
Andrew Shaw, Brad Richards and Patrick Sharp also scored. Dustin Byfuglien scored twice on the power play and Blake Wheeler recorded his fourth short-handed goal of the season for Winnipeg. Andrew Ladd added two assists.Corey Crawford made 31 saves for the Blackhawks, who snapped a two-game losing skid. Ondrej Pavelec stopped 20 shots in the loss, which snapped his six-game winning streak.The loss also ended Winnipeg’s four-game winning streak at home. It was the second game of a four-game homestand. Winnipeg hosts the New York Rangers on Tuesday.Sharp got an unexpected pass to tie it at 3 early in the third period. Jets defenseman Toby Enstrom lost his stick going past a linesman along the boards and then batted the puck. Sharp picked it up and beat Pavelec at 6:27.
”It’s like an injury,” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. ”You know, you’re angry when it happens, but there isn’t anything you can do about it.”
It was hard for the players to accept, but Ladd noted there was still a lot of time left in the game.
”That’s a tough one to take,” Ladd said. ”We’re battling for our playoff lives and something like that happens. It’s always tough to give up the tying goal on that play, but at the same time it’s still a 3-3 hockey game late in the third period and we’ve got to find a way to take that thing to at least overtime.”
Sharp said he was glad to be in the right place at the right time when he scored the tying goal.
”That’s an unfortunate play for them, fortunate for us,” Sharp said. ”We’ve had our fair share of posts and (pucks) staying out, so it’s nice to get a good bounce to go in.”
The Hawks had scored the only goal in the first period and then the teams combined for four in the second.After more than 10 minutes without a shot on goal in the first, the Blackhawks got on the board during a power play with Byfuglien in the penalty box for elbowing. Shaw spun around in front the net and used a rebound off Brandon Saad’s shot to score his 14th goal at 18:30.Winnipeg had killed off 19 of 20 penalties in its previous seven games heading into Sunday.Byfuglien tied it at 1 with an unassisted goal on the power play at 4:34 of the second. His shot went off Crawford into the air and then down and off a defender into the net for his 17th goal of the season.Wheeler made it 2-1 with his team-leading 25th goal on a patient play. After taking a pass from defenseman Tyler Myers, Wheeler skated in and waited to send a low shot behind Crawford’s skate at 7:40.Richards tied it at 16:19, but Byfuglien restored the Jets’ lead with 26 seconds left in the period.Byfuglien fired a blast straight at Crawford from just inside the blue line, the same spot he had a shot clang off the post seconds earlier. Drew Stafford assisted on the goal, extending his career-high points streak to nine games with four goals and seven assists, the longest active points streak in the league.After Sharp tied it at 6:27 of the third, the Jets had a power play with just over four minutes to play, but couldn’t capitalize.