Patrick Kane works on his backhand shot in practice, every now and then just to try and get it down. Truth is, he’s been working on it for some time.
“It’s a shot I’ve been trying to make since I was seven years old,” the Chicago Blackhawks right wing said. “It’s more successful when you’re younger, but it’s always nice to see them go in.”
That shot, lifted over Minnesota Wild goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, couldn’t have gone in at a better time on Friday night.
Kane had two goals, including that backhand that proved to be the game-winner, as the Blackhawks beat the Wild 5-2 in Game 1 of their second-round series. Kane would add another one later, basically an empty-net goal off a deflected pass that Ben Smith was actually trying to direct on net, not to Kane.
Hey, it worked, and once again one of the Blackhawks’ top players came through at a crucial time.
“I don’t know what else you can say about Kaner. That guy turns a lot of games around for us,” Corey Crawford said. “After giving up the lead, he makes another great play to get us right back. He’s definitely a difference maker in a lot of games.”
Kane was quiet through a good part of the game, as were the Blackhawks in general. But with the pressure on and the Wild coming back to tie the game 2-2 early in the third period, Kane was once again the difference-maker. His second goal may have even loomed a bit larger, giving the Blackhawks a two-goal cushion.
Smith, who assisted on Kane’s second goal, said he just shakes his head sometimes at what Kane can do.
“It’s fun playing with him,” said Smith, who has found his new niche centering Kane and Patrick Sharp on that second line. “You try not to force him the puck too much; I was guilty of that a few times tonight. But it’s fun when he winds up and starts skating through the neutral zone. He always seems to find that pass through the seam or a stick that, if I tried it, would hit off someone’s skate and go the other way. He’s a special talent and a lot of fun to watch.”
For Kane, practice makes perfect, be it that backhand shot or any part of his game. He’s rarely satisfied with what he’s done. It’s always about what more he can do, and that was evident again on Friday night.
“I think you take every game as a new challenge,” he said. “You try to show up every night, especially in the playoffs. You can’t do something one night, then sit down and relax and be happy with yourself. You have to try to get better every night. It was nice to get a couple, especially when it was 2-2. But you keep trying to chip in.”