LOS ANGELES – The 3-2 score wasn’t favoring the Chicago Blackhawks as the minutes ticked away in the third period on Friday night.
Once again, they were going to need a comeback to stave off elimination. And once again, Patrick Kane played a big part in reaching that goal.
Kane scored twice, including the game-winner with 3:45 remaining in regulation, and added an assist as the Blackhawks beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final. The Blackhawks, who were down 3-1 entering Game 5 earlier this week, now return to the United Center for Game 7 on Sunday night. A Game 7 will be nothing new to the Kings, however; they’ve won two already this postseason, both on opposing ice.
It looked like they were going to wrap this one up at Staples Center for a while. But after losing the lead early in the third, the Blackhawks got it back in the waning minutes. Corey Crawford did the rest, stopping 26 of 29 for the game en route to his 11th victory of the postseason.
And then there was Kane. The right wing had a quiet start to this series, going point-less in the first three games. The last two have been a distinctly different story, tallying four assists in Game 5 and his three-point night tonight.
Kane gave a lot of credit to his linemates Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw, who he said have done the gruntwork since the three joined forces in Game 5.
“I’m playing with two hard workers that work hard to get the puck back (and) have made my life a lot better as far as getting the puck in good areas where I can make plays,” he said. “So I’ll give the credit to Shaw and Saader.”
Still, the finish usually lies with Kane, and it’s become commonplace to see this time of the year.
“It’s amazing how he turns it on in these big games,” Jonathan Toews said. “I think a lot of guys, maybe, are making sure they don’t make mistakes with the puck and getting rid of the puck in certain areas. But he’s as calm as ever with it, even if it’s late in the period and the ice is a little rough. He just keeps that puck flat and has his head up. He makes some amazing plays. So for him to come up with those two plays, on the tying goal and the winning goal, not much you can say. It’s pretty amazing.”
So is the Blackhawks’ comeback in this series. Oh, they’ve still had their moments. A third-period lapse in which they struggled to clear the puck got the Kings possession, and a few moments later it got them the tying goal from Drew Doughty. Two minutes and a Toews penalty later, Alec Martinez scored on the power play to give the Kings a 3-2 advantage 7:38 into the third period.
Then it was showtime, so to speak. Kane found Duncan Keith, who skated into the slot and fired past Jonathan Quick to tie the game 3-3 11:34 into the third.
“I saw him walking up and he made a great play, on his backhand there and right on my tape. I was just walking right down, got my head up and saw that side,” Keith said. “It was a nice play by Kaner to make that pass to me, right on my tape.”
Then Kane finished it off, sending the Blackhawks back home for Game 7.
Kane coming up big in big games, on big stages, isn’t surprising anymore. He takes it hard when he’s not contributing. But the silence has rarely lasted long.
“You try to take it upon yourself to step up in big situations, but we have a lot of guys who do that,” he said. “With our team and with the amount of great players on hit, it seems like everyone has their time to step up and have the spotlight and be in that moment. Numerous guys have done it, and when it’s your turn, it’s always fun to contribute.”