Patrick Kane darted down the ice, weighing his options. Shoot, or pass off to teammates Ben Smith or Brandon Saad, who were heading straight for the net.
Considering the hands and the shot, it’s no surprise he chose the former. It’s also not a surprise he connected. It never gets old for Kane, does it?
“It’s fun scoring these kind of goals, that’s for sure,” Kane said with a laugh.
Kane’s fun turned into the Blackhawks’ fun, as his overtime winner gave the Blackhawks a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues and tied their first-round series 2-2. It was a breakout night for Kane, who scored two goals after being quiet the previous two games.
The so-so Games 2 and 3 prompted questions about his left knee, which was injured in mid-March and kept him out the rest of the regular season. Was he healthy? Was his mobility limited? Kane said yes to the former, no to the latter; on Wednesday he validated both answers.
“Every game feels like I’ve gotten a little bit better,” said Kane, who now has three postseason goals. “Whether it’s timing or getting used to playing in the playoffs again, whatever it may be, I’ll just try to keep getting better and better and use these games to my advantage.”
Kane and Jonathan Toews were reunited for Game 3 and that tandem, along with Bryan Bickell, were together for most of Game 4, too. But Kane really took off when he was teamed with Smith and Patrick Sharp later in the game. It won’t be surprising if this trio is together to start Game 5.
“He got better when he was with Benny and Sharpie,” head coach Joel Quenneville said. “He had the puck more. He was dangerous, effective and obviously scoring. Johnny Oduya made a nice play to him (on his first goal). Kane had a nice night; that line was effective for us as well.”
For opponents, Kane is always a handful. Containing him is one thing; trying to catch him when he gets away is another.
“I think he got loose on us today because of what we did in the offensive zone. He got loose on rush attacks because we turned the puck over,” Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said. “And he’s dangerous off the rush; the most dangerous player in the league.”
Last postseason, it took until the Western Conference Finals for Kane to get going. At the time, Quenneville said he needed more from his right wing and Kane responded from there on out. It hasn’t taken nearly as long for Kane to look like Kane this postseason. Considering he’s coming off a knee injury that sidelined him for a month, the quick rebound is a good sign.
“I was out a month so you’re not going to come back and have that game pace and timing you had when you left. It takes a little while,” Kane said. “It’s something you have to get used to and get better at. But I’m doing my best.”