The Chicago Blackhawks trailed heading into the third period of Sunday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets, but a Patrick Sharp goal tied it and Jonathan Toews scored with 30 seconds left to give them a 4-3 victory in Manitoba.
Andrew Shaw and Brad Richards also added goals for the Blackhawks as they snapped a two-game losing streak, and the victory lifts the Hawks back into third place in the Central Division, leap-frogging the Minnesota Wild.
The Blackhawks had a lot of trouble getting into their rhythm on offense in the game, going without a shot on goal for the first 10 minutes of the contest. Meanwhile, the Jets seemed to have their sea legs underneath them early on, but Corey Crawford made some strong saves in the early going as he helped keep the game scoreless through the first half of the period.
Ultimately, the Blackhawks started generating some chances on offense, and they got a power play as a result. Fortunately for them, their offense seemed to do a lot better with the man-advantage, and when Brandon Saad’s shot was blocked down in front of the cage, Shaw was able to collect the rebound and shovel it past Ondrej Pavelec to make it a 1-0 game in favor of the Blackhawks.
The second period started out with the Hawks getting another power play, with Marian Hossa getting a quality chance, but Chicago was unable to score. They surrendered a power play to the Jets right after their chance expired, but they got the first good chance of the sequence as Saad and Jonathan Toews skated in on a 2-on-0 rush. Unfortunately, the puck rolled off of Saad’s stick and Toews knocked it off the heel of his blade, shooting it wide and keeping the Hawks’ lead at one goal.
Just about 30 seconds later, the Jets took advantage of the miscue and scored to tie things up. Byfuglien’s shot travelled through traffic and deflected off of Johnny Oduya’s stick, and while Crawford was able to get a piece of it with his blocker, he didn’t get enough of the shot as it bounced over him and rolled into the net to make it a 1-1 game.
The Blackhawks got another power play a few minutes later, but it was Winnipeg that scored to take the lead. A 3-on-2 shorthanded rush saw some tremendous passing by the Jets, with Andrew Ladd initiating it by passing to Tyler Myers, and then Myers found Blake Wheeler streaking toward the net, and Crawford had no chance as Winnipeg seized a 2-1 advantage.
After a couple of missed opportunities by Marian Hossa and Shaw, the Blackhawks were able to tie up the game with about four minutes to go in the second period. Sharp won a puck battle along the boards to set the sequence up, and when Johnny Oduya fired a shot toward the net, Richards was able to get a stick on the puck and deflect it up over Pavelec and just under the crossbar to make it 2-2.
Very late in the period, the Jets were able to regain the lead. After Crawford was unable to cover up a loose puck in front of the cage, it eventually made its way back to Byfuglien at the point, and the former Blackhawk scored his second goal of the game to give Winnipeg a 3-2 lead through two periods of play.
The third period started out pretty poorly for the Blackhawks, with two straight shots on goal by Wheeler necessitating Crawford stops, but the team eventually found its footing and tied things up. After Tobias Enstrom had his stick ripped from his hands by an official, Sharp got in on a breakaway and rifled a wrist shot past Pavelec to make it a 3-3 hockey game.
The Jets got a late power play thanks to a Michal Rozsival penalty, but after they were unable to capitalize, the Hawks generated a tremendous possession with their top line. With just 30 seconds remaining in the game, Hjalmarsson got the puck at the point, and he rifled a slap shot toward the net that Toews was able to get a piece of on the way in, and it evaded Pavelec to give Chicago a 4-3 lead.
The Hawks were able to finish off the game as Hossa, Kruger, and Toews all prevented Pavelec from escaping the net for the extra attacker, and Chicago picked up a massive win for their playoff chances.
They won’t have much time to treasure the victory however, as they head back to Chicago for a Monday night showdown with the Los Angeles Kings at the United Center.