WINNIPEG – Jonathan Toews’points streak was halted at five games, but the Chicago Blackhawks captain wasn’t too worried.
The most important number was the 5-1 victory the ‘Hawks put up against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday afternoon that extended their winning streak to three games.
Toews’ linemate Patrick Sharp did get a goal with the help of an assist by Marion Hossa, so it wasn’t as if the team’s top line was shut out of the action.
“As a line, maybe we didn’t get too much going,” said Toews, who had nine points in the previous five games, including a natural hat trick on Tuesday.
“We didn’t get that puck control we wanted to throughout three periods, but a nice play by Hossa on Sharpy’s goal there.”
Hossa had stolen the puck and sprung Sharp on a breakaway. He deked in front of goalie Ondrej Pavelec and fired a low shot on the glove side at 2:41 that made it 3-1.
Sharp’s goal was the second of three straight the Blackhawks (9-2-3) scored in the first six minutes of the second period.
Corey Crawford stopped 26 shots in picking up his eighth win of the season.
Defencemen Niklas Hjalmarsson and Nick Leddy and forwards Brandon Bollig and Ben Smith also scored.
Marcus Kruger had a pair of assists and Leddy and Bollig also picked up an assist each for the Blackhawks, who are 4-1-1 on the road this season.
Defenceman Tobias Enstrom scored at 5:08 of the first period for Winnipeg (5-8-2), which has lost three straight.
Hjalmarrson tied it 1-1 after Kruger cleanly won the face off and sent him the puck.
His goal spoiled an impressive penalty kill for Winnipeg.
Fans had just given the Jets a standing ovation for killing off a 21-second two-man advantage, but just one second after the final penalty expired, Hjalmarrson fired a high shot from just inside the blue line that went through traffic at 9:58.
Bollig, Sharp and Leddy scored their goals in a span of three minutes and 55 seconds, and after Chicago only had four shots on goal in the period.
“I thought we played really well and then all of a sudden it was 3-1,” Jets captain Andrew Ladd said.
“And then you maybe get outside your game a little bit and try doing things to catch up and dig a deep hole.”
Jets coach Claude Noel viewed Sharp’s goal as the dagger.
“I thought that was a play that really killed our team,” Noel said.
It was the Jets’ biggest margin of defeat this season. They had lost 4-1 to Dallas Oct. 11.
Pavelec was replaced by Al Montoya after Leddy’s goal at 5:49 of the second made it three in a row. Pavelec had stopped 10 of 14 shots at that point.
Montoya faced 11 shots in his stint.
Noel wasn’t blaming Pavelec for not bailing the team out this time.
“Before it gets to him, there’s sometimes breakdowns elsewhere,” Noel said.
Crawford said he saw most of the 27 shots the Jets sent his way.
“I think most of their situations were crashing the net on the wing,” he said. “A couple I had to fight for through screens but most of them, a couple of rebounds there, our guys were able to clear after.”
Enstrom’s second goal of the season came during a week in which he revealed that he’d told Team Sweden he wouldn’t suit up for the squad if asked to play in next year’s Olympic Games because he wanted to focus on playing well for the Jets.
Chicago had a bit of a scare with 65 seconds left in the first when Crawford was knocked down by Blake Wheeler, who was coming in fast with the puck.
Crawford was slow to get up, but remained in the game and said later he didn’t remember getting his bell rung. While he was getting looked at, the jumbotron zoomed in on Blackhawks backup goalie Nikolai Khabibulin on the bench and a message flashed welcoming him back to Winnipeg.
Chanting “Habby, Habby,” fans stood to give Khabibulin a standing ovation, which he recognized with a wave of his glove from the bench. The netminder played for the original Jets in their last 1996 game before the team moved to Phoenix to become the Coyotes.
Patrick Kane almost added to Chicago’s lead early in the third period when he was given a penalty shot after being hooked by Jets defenceman Grant Clitsome during a breakaway.
Kane’s backhand shot went high past Montoya, but it hit the crossbar and bounced out.
In less than two minutes, Smith did change the scoreboard to 5-1 when he redirected a shot from the boards by Bollig at 9:13.
There were a number of fans at MTS Centre wearing Blackhawks jersey, including some bearing the name of the Winnipeg-born Toews, Sharp and Duncan Keith, who assisted on Smith’s goal.
Winnipeg hosts Detroit on Monday, while Chicago is home to Calgary on Sunday and Winnipeg on Wednesday.
Notes: The Jets claimed Los Angeles Kings defenceman Keaton Ellerby off waivers earlier in the day. Winnipeg has three injured blue-liners; Mark Stuart, Jacob Trouba and Paul Postma…The Blackhawks visit the White House on Monday to be recognized by U.S. President Barack Obama for their Cup title…Jets forward Michael Frolik won the Cup with Chicago last year, while Winnipeg captain Andrew Ladd and defenceman Dustin Byfuglien have championship rings from Chicago’s 2010 title.