Patrick Kane was down a few moments in the right faceoff circle before he gingerly got off the ice on his own. A few minutes later he was off to the locker room and done for the night.
And now, it looks like Kane may be done for the rest of the regular season.
Kane will be out three weeks with a left-leg injury, putting a damper on the Chicago Blackhawks’ otherwise stellar 4-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night. Kane was skating in the faceoff circle when Blues forward Brenden Morrow fell on the back of Kane’s lower left leg. It was a tough loss for the Blackhawks, who do expect Kane to be ready to go for the postseason, but losing him for any amount of time obviously hurts.
“It was a freak play; it can happen. And we’ve been fortunate most of the year so we’ll deal with it,” said coach Joel Quenneville, who recorded his 700th head coaching victory on Wednesday. “Certainly he’s a special player. We’ll have to work our way through it with what he brings to our team.”
The Blackhawks will try to press on without him and will need everyone to contribute to do so.
“It’s tough to lose a guy, no matter who it is. With it being Kaner, a player of that stature on our team, it hurts,” said Duncan Keith, who scored the game-winner, a power-play goal, in the first period. “At the same time it gives opportunities to other guys to gain confidence and that benefits them.”
As far as the game, the Blackhawks couldn’t have had a much better performance. Sure, they had strong, 60-minute outings against Columbus and Detroit recently but both of those teams were missing key players from their lineups. The Blues came in strong and confident, having won seven of their last eight games and sitting atop the Western Conference standings.
Corey Crawford got his second shutout of the season, stopping 23 shots. Nick Leddy and Patrick Sharp each had two assists and Marcus Kruger also scored. The Blackhawks, stymied by the Blues earlier this season, got much-needed confidence out of Wednesday’s game.
“It was definitely big to get two (points) against them and know in our heads we can compete against that team,” said Ben Smith, whose power-play goal capped the final score and sent Ryan Miller packing for the night. “(The Blue) have been on top for a month or two. It was a big win for us, especially since we’ve been up and down a bit here the last month or two. It’s time for us to make our push and hopefully this is the start of it.”
The Blackhawks dealt with the Blues’ physical edge and answered St. Louis’ hits with sustained offensive zone time and goals.
“It’s huge for us,” said Andrew Shaw, who redirected Leddy’s shot for his 18th goal of the season. “They have a lot of great players and a goalie that’s been hot. If we meet these guys in the playoffs, it’s huge for us to know we have the capability to go out there and work and out-compete them.”
The Blackhawks got a big, positive lesson out of their strong outing on Wednesday night. They also suffered a big loss. It could’ve been worse with Kane’s injury, but the Blackhawks, who still want to move up in the division, will nevertheless have to fill big shoes.
“It’s definitely a huge loss for us,” Quenneville said. “We’ve been fortunate as far as not getting hit too hard (with injuries), but you’re going to get tested at some point.”