Toews’ OT goal lifts Blackhawks over Avalanche

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Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) celebrates with right wing Patrick Kane (88) and defenseman Duncan Keith (2) after scoring against the Colorado Avalanche during overtime in an NHL hockey game Tuesday, March 6, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

by Scott King

Blackhawks defenseman Erik Gustafsson had a fine Tuesday.

Most recently, he scored the first goal of the game at 5:08 in the first period against the visiting Colorado Avalanche. Gustafsson intended to pass it to Patrick Kane near the net, but it deflected off an Avalanche skate and snuck past Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov.

“Tried to find Kaner’ [Patrick Kane] on the backdoor there,” Gustafsson said. “Came off the skate and I saw it go in, so it was pretty nice. He had an open net, so I don’t think he’s going to miss that one.”

Earlier in the day, he signed a two-year contract extension with the Hawks. “This is the first time I signed over a year [contract] in the season,” Gustafsson said. “It feels good. I finally think I can relax a little bit more and play my own game, just relax out there. I kind of felt that today.”

Nathan MacKinnon scored a power play goal for the Avs late in the second period to even things up 1-1. Connor Murphy was in the box for holding.

It was MacKinnon’s 32nd goal of the season and his 17th point in his last eight plus games.

It looked like Brandon Saad put the Hawks back ahead after getting the puck in off a Kane pass, but a review determined the puck was kicked in.

The contest remained tied and headed to overtime. It took all of nine seconds for Jonathan Toews to bury the game-winner on a feed from Patrick Kane.

“I mean what a pass that was,” Hawks goaltender J.F. Berube said of the game-winning feed. “Right on his tape, and to be able to one-time it right into the net… I think that just shows the level of players those two are.”

J.F. Berube made 33 saves on 34 Colorado shots in the victory. Several of those saves involved robbing some Avalanche shooters all alone in front of the net.

“I think it’s just about staying sharp and reading plays and making sure I make those big saves,” Berube said.

“Part of my problem my first year in the NHL, I think I was getting a little kind of starstruck and it took me away from the game and that’s learning from my past experience I think. I learned how to deal with that and at the end of the day, they’re on the same ice as I am, so I’m just as good as they are. So it’s just about [doing] my job and it doesn’t matter who’s in front of me.”

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