DENVER – Patrick Kane said he didn’t mind double shifting when he had to do it several games ago. Good thing, because he had to do it again on Monday night. In Colorado’s higher elevations. And in its much thinner air.
And it didn’t slow him down one bit.
Kane scored the game-winning goal and added two assists, and Jimmy Hayes scored his first goal of the season as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 at the Pepsi Center. The Blackhawks have won three in a row and still sit atop the Western Conference, now with 51 points. But the Anaheim Ducks, who the Blackhawks will face on Wednesday, continue to nip at their heels. The Ducks beat the Sharks 5-3 tonight, keeping the Blackhawks’ lead at just five points.
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Marian Hossa went out near the end of the first period, moments after he was crunched along the boards. While the team announced he could return with the upper-body injury he suffered, he did not. Coach Joel Quenneville said afterward that Hossa was “not bad, day to day,” and that they’ll know more Tuesday if Hossa can play Wednesday in Anaheim.
Ray Emery stopped 17 of 19 shots for his 11th victory of the season.
Kane was stellar in Hossa’s absence, double shifting the rest of the game and ultimately playing a team-high 22 minutes, 30 seconds. It’s a challenge that Kane accepts, although in the thinner air tonight he admits it was tough.
“A little bit tiring, but you can’t turn down much ice, especially when they keep telling you to go out there,” Kane said. “I think at the end I was a little worn down, but I’ll keep taking the ice time if they call my name.”
Quenneville said Kane “didn’t mind. I gassed him a couple times where he looked like he might have been out of breath. A couple times he even laughed at me when I asked him questions. He likes to go; he had the puck a lot tonight he was dangerous.”
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Kane responded with two of his points, including that game-winning goal in the second period, and got some ribbing from Jonathan Toews.
“I was asking if he was training in the mountains all summer. I don’t know where that came from,” Toews said. “He did well with the ice time. With Hoss out, Kaner was playing with whatever line he was out there with. We hope to have Hoss back soon; hopefuly just a precautionary thing. If a guy like that goes down everybody has to be better. And we were tonight.”
The Blackhawks, indeed, brought the team game again tonight. Toews had a three-point night himself, adding his 14th goal at the end of regulation. Andrew Shaw scored 57 seconds after Hayes for an early 2-0 Blackhawks lead.
Brent Seabrook, who didn’t play a good chunk of the second period, came back to tally a goal and an assist. Seabrook was caught flat-footed when Gabriel Landeskog scored a short-handed goal late in the first period. Asked if it was a decision to sit Seabrook a bit, Quenneville said, “yeah, we made a move there. But he got back in there, scored a nice goal and set up a nice play in the third.”
The Blackhawks got a little something from everyone on Monday night, from a double-shifting Kane to goals from their role players. It’s been their modus operandi through this season and continues to pay dividends. In any elevation.
“I’d have to say tonight was a very complete 60 minutes for us as a team,” Toews said. “We did a heck of a job rolling four lines and no one got caught out there. Sometimes, being in elevation, you can get caught on a long shift and that can get to you. But we were smart about those changes, smart about those little details and it showed in our team game.”