Hat trick for Patrick propels Hawks
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane celebrates his game-winning double-overtime goal against the Los Angeles Kings Saturday to win the NHL Western Conference Finals at the United Center in Chicago.
John Starks | Staff Photographer
Not the guy who scored that little overtime goal from below a below-the-dot angle in the Stanley Cup-clinching win in 2010.
Not the party animal who boldly wears a mullet to complement his youthful playoff beard.
Not the guy who flashed gusto by whipping in a goal with a Savardian spinorama at Dallas this season.
Patrick Kane, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft, lose confidence in himself?
"I think everybody internally has ways of getting themselves excited to play," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Saturday before Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against Los Angeles at the United Center. "Top guys usually find ways to motivate themselves. That's what makes them special. They want to be the best they can be every single day. Different challenges, how they get themselves excited.
Kane got a rare garbage goal in Game 4 in Los Angeles on Thursday night. He joked that he stole the goal from Bryan Bickell, whose deflection snuck past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and appeared goal-bound.
The late second-period tally seemed the spark the Blackhawks right winger, who had scored a measly 2 goals in the Blackhawks' first 15 playoff games. He finished with 7 shots in a goal in a foreshadowing of what would take place Saturday night.
"I talked to Kaner the day before," Quenneville said. "He said he's going to find a way to get it done. He wanted the puck, had it more, was more effective in his game as well."
The effectiveness carried over into Game 5.
Kane's goal with 8:20 left in the second overtime lifted the Blackhawks to a 4-3 win over the Kings, vaulting them into the Stanley Cup finals against Boston. His third goal (and fourth in two games) came when he finished off a 2-on-1 with Jonathan Toews, one-timing a shot past Quick. Kane slid boyishly across center ice, punctuating his celebration with a right fist pump, before teammates engulfed him.
"We were laughing about it after the game," Kane said. "If you watch the bench after we score to win the game, it almost seems like it was just another goal. No one could celebrate because we were all so tired."
They were elated, nonetheless.
"It's almost like I'm in a twilight zone or something," Kane said after the second playoff hat trick of his career. His first came against Vancouver at the United Center in 2009.
"I'm kind of out of it."
Quenneville wanted more from his star and received it.
"That was more than more," Quenneville said. "It was certainly an outstanding game by him.
A great play. I thought Kaner really played a heck of a game in Games 4 and 5 for us. He led with having the puck a lot. His time of possession was very high-end."
"I expected more from myself and my teammates probably did too," Kane said. "I just tried to get back to the basics — want the puck, go get the puck and try to make plays. That's kind of my attitude right now."
Kane's self-confidence was evident all night.
His second goal, off a behind-the-net steal and dish by Bickell, with 3:52 left in the third period stood to be the game-winner and series-clncher until the Kings' Mike Richards hushed the United Center crowd.
With Blackhawks fans ready to celebrate a Finals berth and standing in anticipation, Richards redirected an Anze Kopitar shot past Corey Crawford with 9.4 seconds left to force overtime.
Defending Cup champs don't lose confidence in themselves either.
Kane's first goal Saturday night was more vintage No. 88. He corraled a loose puck in front of Quick, after linemates Bickell and Toews helped create a flurry. Kane then drifted left, held the puck and waited for defenseman Drew Doughty and Quick to go down to the ice, before
hoisting a shot into the net, hiking the Blackhawks' lead to 2-0 with just 5:59 gone in the game.
"When you're playing with Bicksey and Tazer, especially the last few games, you're going to get those opportunities," Kane said. "A couple of nice plays by them tonight. They take up a lot of space at the net, and I think tonight I was kind of the guy that really tried to
capitalize on the chances. But it's always nice to contribute, especially in games like this."
A Presidents' Trophy-winning Blackhawks team that has relied on its depth all season still needs its stars to play like stars.
Kane did Saturday night.
"He stepped up," Quenneville said. "He took on the responsibility of leading the team. He's proven he's a top player in the game. He made special plays over the two games. It was nice to see him finish it off in a real positive way for us."
"I think for the most part Bicks and I are able to create space for Kaner," said Toews, who along with Bickell had 2 assists. "He was the finisher tonight. It was nice to see Kaner have that success. Obviously we want to keep that going."
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