Oh captain: Toews the OT hero as ‘Hawks take 3-2 series lead on Blues


Maybe he got tired of Patrick Kane scoring all the dramatic overtime winners.

Jonathan Toews decided he would play the role of hero on Friday night, scoring 7:36 into overtime to give Chicago a 3-2 win in Game 5 of what’s become a truly compelling first-round affair.

With the victory, the ‘Hawks have stormed back after dropping the opening two games in St. Louis and now hold a 3-2 series lead.

And what a series it’s been.

Friday’s tilt was fourth time in five games Chicago and St. Louis have gone to overtime, just the fifth time that’s happened in NHL history. What’s more, Chicago has ended the last two OT sessions with goals from their dynamic duo, Kane and Toews.

Captain Serious’ goal tonight came after some scrambled play in the Chicago zone — Corey Crawford punched a rebound out into traffic, and Duncan Keith’s wild swipe at the puck proved to be the perfect outlet pass, bouncing off Andrew Shaw’s shin pad to spring Toews on a breakaway:

That wasn’t the lone dramatic moment of the night, however.

Three of the biggest stars in this series — T.J. Oshie, Marian Hossa and Alex Pietrangelo — all got their first goals of the postseason. Hossa opened the scoring late in the first period, only to see Oshie even the score midway through the second with this outrageous marker:

Ben Smith scored for Chicago to make it 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in the second, but the lead didn’t last long as Pietrangelo scored 1:42 into the third period, converting a nice two-on-one with Jaden Schwartz to beat Crawford in goal.

Speaking of Crawford, he was solid again tonight in stopping 27 of 29 shots while his counterpart, Ryan Miller, made 27 saves on 30 shots.

With the win, Chicago will now head back to the United Center on Sunday with the chance to close out the Blues — a Blues team that, for the second straight postseason, is facing an opening-round elimination after taking a 2-0 series lead.


Devils send ’15 first-rounder Zacha back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One

Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.

Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.

The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.

“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”

At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.

The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.

Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.