Jonathan Toews put on a show for Team Canada general manager Steve Yzerman on Friday night.
Toews boosted his case for a berth on Canada's Olympic team by scoring once in regulation and again in the shootout, leading the Chicago Blackhawks to a 5-4 victory over the Boston Bruins.
Toews, now 10-for-18 on shootouts in his career, said he didn't even know Yzerman was at the United Center scouting for the Games, which will be held in Vancouver in February.
He said he'd love to represent his country again -- he's already won three international gold medal -- but that playing for his team comes first.
"Every time I've had a chance to play for Team Canada ... it's been an incredible rush knowing millions of people across your country are watching," Toews said. "It's been an honor so far to just be mentioned. But really, our priority is with our team right now. This season's been going well. I've been slowly getting better and taking on more and more responsibility."
The Blackhawks are 14-3-1 since Toews, their 21-year-old captain, returned on Nov. 9 after missing six games with a concussion.
Not every great scorer is a shootout ace, but Toews has enjoyed well-above-average success in the breakaway competition.
"I've got a couple moves that have been working," he said. "I'm trying to use those while they last before anybody can figure them out."
The Hawks survived three blown leads and ended an 0-4-1 drought against Boston that went back nearly eight years. At 22-8-3, they're off to their best start in 27 years, and their 15-3-1 is the NHL's best home record.
Patrick Kane scored the shootout clincher and Kris Versteeg, Patrick Sharp and Andrew Ladd had regulation goals for the Blackhawks, who spoiled a 40-save performance by Tim Thomas. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner was brilliant all night but couldn't prevent the Bruins from losing their third straight game.
David Krejci scored twice for Boston, including the goal that forced overtime with 2:43 left in regulation.
"They're one of the top teams, if not the top team, in the NHL right now," Thomas said. "We showed some guts coming back and tying it up."
Thomas, who couldn't be faulted on any of Chicago's regulation goals, said his timing was off during the shootout.
"Sometimes that's the way it is," he said. "Your timing is on for a game (but it is) screwed up for the shootout, or vice versa."
Chicago goalie Antti Niemi, who had allowed only one goal in his previous three starts, wasn't as sharp this time. Still, he stopped Patrice Bergeron's attempt to start the shootout.
Toews then beat Thomas low to the stick side. After Blake Wheeler hit the post to Niemi's left, Kane stuffed a backhander past Thomas to give the Blackhawks their eighth shootout or overtime victory this year, tied for most in the NHL.
The two-round shootout was a rarity for the Hawks, who've had some of the NHL's longest this season.
"This one was a lot easier on our tickers," coach Joel Quenneville said.
Chicago had recorded consecutive shutouts and hadn't allowed a goal in exactly a week before Krejci beat Niemi 9:22 into the game on a nice pass from Wheeler.
Poor second-period defense by the Bruins gave Thomas no chance on point-blank goals by Versteeg and Sharp, putting Chicago ahead 2-1 midway through the second period.
Daniel Paille tied it at 16:32 of the second, but Toews scored with 26.6 seconds left in the period by whacking away at the puck in front of the net until he banged it past Thomas.
Boston's Johnny Boychuk and Chicago's Andrew Ladd traded third-period goals before Krejci scored on a rebound to tie it 4-4.
Material from wire services was used in this report
|David Krejci (6) ASST: Blake Wheeler (10), Derek Morris (13)|
1 - 0 BOS
|Kris Versteeg (10) ASST: NONE|
1 - 1 Tie
|Patrick Sharp (10) ASST: Brent Seabrook (13), Duncan Keith (21)|
2 - 1 CHI
|Daniel Paille (3) ASST: Mark Recchi (11)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Jonathan Toews (10) ASST: Troy Brouwer (7), Patrick Kane (24)|
3 - 2 CHI
|Johnny Boychuk (2) ASST: Patrice Bergeron (17), Daniel Paille (7)|
3 - 3 Tie
|Andrew Ladd (5) ASST: Brian Campbell (16), Jordan Hendry (3)|
4 - 3 CHI
|David Krejci (7) ASST: Patrice Bergeron (18), Mark Recchi (12)|
4 - 4 Tie
|1||P. Bergeron||J. Toews|
|2||B. Wheeler||P. Kane|
|Vladimir Sobotka Hooking against Colin Fraser|
|Marian Hossa Tripping against Andrew Ference|
|Steve Begin Interference against Dustin Byfuglien|