Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

June 24, 2013

NHL PLAYOFFS: Man of the hour

Kane comes up big late in games for Blackhawks

BOSTON — Patrick Kane already has one Stanley Cup-winning goal from 2010 along with the one that put the Chicago Blackhawks back into the finals this year.

Can he imagine a second NHL title-clincher?

“I think the stars would have to be aligned right for it to happen like that again,” Kane said Sunday, a day before the Blackhawks will take the ice in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final with a chance to win their second championship in four seasons.

“I think the biggest thing is trying to help contribute any way I can, help this team get a win, especially the situation we’re in,” said Kane, who scored the winner in Game 6 against Philadelphia in the ‘10 finals, and the one that eliminated the Los Angeles Kings in this year’s Western Conference finals. “I’ll do whatever I can to help the team win, and it would be a great feeling.”

The Blackhawks will take a 3-2 lead into Game 6 against the Boston Bruins tonight, and Kane is a big reason why. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft had two goals in Chicago’s 3-1 victory in Game 5, giving him seven goals in his last seven games, including two winners.

“That’s the type of player he is,” Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. “When it comes down to the wire and tight games, big games, that’s when he wants the puck. That’s when he wants to score the goals, the big goals.

“It’s huge to have those kind of players in your team when you go far in the playoffs. And now when it’s really coming down to the wire here, (it) gives the whole group confidence that you have players like that. It’s not a coincidence that he has a lot of big goals so far in his career.”

Actually, Kane has a lot of small goals, too.

In addition to the nine times he’s scored in 22 playoff games this postseason, Kane led the Blackhawks in scoring in the lockout-shortened regular season with 55 points in 48 games — including 23 goals that tied for the team lead.

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville split Kane and Jonathan Toews at the start of the finals so that Bruins counterpart Claude Julien wouldn’t be able to match defenseman Zdeno Chara with both of the Blackhawks’ top forwards. But they responded with no goals in the first three games, and Quenneville put them back together for Game 4.

Since then, they have combined for four goals and seven points. Kane’s 19 points in the playoffs lead Chicago and are second in the NHL; he also led the Blackhawks with eight points in the six-game victory over Philadelphia in the 2010 finals.

“It’s like we always say: I don’t care who scores for us; I don’t care who’s on the ice for them,” Quenneville said. “We expect somebody has got to score for us, and we’re not choosy in that department.”

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