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Blackhawks captain in the zone on record-tying night

by Dave Lozo /
VANCOUVER -- It's a good sign it's going to be your night when the other team is setting you up for power-play goals.

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was the beneficiary of a gorgeous centering feed from Ryan Kesler -- a Canucks forward and Selke Trophy nominee -- on his second of three goals Friday night.

Kesler accidentally redirected a puck that was cranked around the boards by Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, and it wound up on Toews' stick five feet from the net. He chipped it past a surprised Roberto Luongo during his five-point night that paced the Blackhawks to a 7-4 victory and a commanding 3-1 lead in their Western Conference Semifinal series.

"It's one of those things," Toews said with a laugh about the goal. "I'm not chalking that up to anything I did before that. It's a lucky bounce. I'll take those goals any way I can."

When Toews is lucky and good, it's great news for the Blackhawks.

The Winnipeg native now leads the League with 18 points during the playoffs. His five points Friday tied a franchise record, accomplished twice before by Stan Mikita in 1973 and Steve Larmer in 1990. It's pretty lofty company for a player who is just 22 years old and participating in only his second Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"The bigger the game, the bigger he shows up," said Patrick Sharp, who had a goal and three assists in the win. "He's good in all areas, whether it's taking a faceoff or killing a penalty, or in the offensive zone like you saw tonight.

"He's a special player."

And he delivered a special game.

Toews needed just 18 seconds to register his first point of the night. He fed a streaking Brent Seabrook, who made it 1-0 Blackhawks with a quick shot from between the faceoff circles. Later in the period, Toews scored his first of the night eight seconds after Shane O'Brien went to the penalty box for cross-checking.

The gift goal set up by Kesler 27 seconds into the second period gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead, one they would not relinquish. Toews added an assist and his third goal of the night later in the period to extend the lead to 5-2 and etch his name in the Blackhawks record books.

"When you look at his season, how he's progressed, it seems he gets better and better," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "You saw at the Olympics how he was and in the playoffs, we love the trend he's got."

In this series, Toews has three goals and seven assists in four games. Despite having 13 points in the playoffs going into Friday, Toews had said he wasn't happy with his inability to contribute goals.

After Game 4, he said he felt like he was in a zone where everything that left his stick was going to result in a goal.

"It felt like that a little bit tonight," Toews said. "You have to use that to your advantage. You know, those bounces, the puck is going to come to you when you're working hard and playing the right way."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DLozoNHL

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