Toews leads charge as Hawks rally for 6-5 victory over Sens

Toews leads charge as Hawks rally for 6-5 victory over Sens

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

When the street lights went on, the Chicago Blackhawks had rallied to defeat the Ottawa Senators 6-5. The game was played at the United Center, between two NHL teams, but at times it was a comedy of errors or at the very least a strange affair. It was also an entertaining contest which featured a great performance by Jonathan Toews who scored the third hat trick of his career.

Joel Quenneville had a choice as whether to start Corey Crawford in back to back games or give the nod to Nikolai Khabibulin. Quenneville opted to give Khabibulin a chance to bounce back from and awful performance in Tampa Bay. The logic is easy to follow as the Hawks were playing a team they should handle, especially on home ice.

Fortunately for Quenneville he had Crawford to fall back on as Khabibulin surrendered four goals on 22 shots. Crawford came in and was tested but held down the fort. Then the Toews show began and the Blackhawk captain willed his team to victory.

From 14:30 of the middle frame until the 9:13 mark of period three, Toews scored a natural hat trick. The Senators saw a 4-2 lead turn into a 5-4 deficit and it got worse as Andrew Shaw scored the game winner at 14:10. Both Quenneville and his counterpart Paul MacLean probably cringed more than once and in the end the deeper team was the best.

It took awhile for the Blackhawks to get their legs going as this was their third game in four nights. The Senators were aided by some soft goals but they were the better team until Crawford came in and Toews started to heat up. Once the Blackhawks got the pace to quicken, the Sens made costly mistakes. In fairness both sides were guilty of sloppy play.

On the positive side of the ledger, the Hawks power play keeps clicking and they came up with another strong third period. Marian Hossa is playing great hockey and was credited with a goal and two assists. He is a treat to watch for any fan of the game. Shaw scored two goals and he keeps doing a lot of heavy lifting in front of the opponent's goal. Shaw's line includes Jeremy Morin who picked up an assist and recorded three shots on goal. Morin has looked good and Patrick Sharp has heated up as well. Sharp recorded four shots and notched two helpers.

The Blackhawks will rest up and get ready for two games this weekend. They travel to Winnipeg to face the Jets for a Saturday afternoon matinee and then will return to the United Center on Sunday to face Calgary.

If the focus is there this could be a productive weekend as both Winnipeg and Calgary have struggled this season.

Al Shot's

There is some concern and justly so about the play of Khabibulin.

Some fans are quick to point out highly touted Finnish goaltender Antti Raanta has played really well in Rockford.

In a 82 game season, a solid backup is needed and the soft part of the schedule is behind the Blackhawks. Khabibulin has been injury prone in recent years and last season played in only 12 games for the Edmonton Oilers. Some believe Khabibulin is done and Raanta will soon be the backup in Chicago.

By design, Khabibulin was signed this summer because he was the best goaltender available who had prior experience as a true number one. Bowman liked his resume and rewarded Khabibulin with a $1.7 million contract for one season, which also includes a $300,000 performance bonus clause.

Many teams were interested in Raanta and he was a low risk one year signing by Bowman. As the season wears on Raanta could end up in Chicago, maybe sooner but that seems unlikely.

Possibly latter this year, Raanta will be brought in as a backup and if he proves to be as good as advertised he could be kept or dealt. Young goaltenders with promise are usually easy to trade and can bring a nice return.

So in the short term, the Blackhawks will look to play better defense in front of Khabibulin and put him in the best position to shine. Maybe he will gain some traction and emerge as a solid backup.

If not, Bowman will have to figure out a way to deal with a mistake.

I will be back on Sunday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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