Four goals in 22 games. That's what Patrick Kane brought into Sunday's clash with the Sabres in his hometown of Buffalo.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville was hoping some home cooking would get Kane back on track, and it did as Kane scored the first goal in the 2-1 win over at First Niagra Center.
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"It's always fun to come back home," Kane said. "I spent a lot of my childhood here (in this building), so it's kind of nerve-wracking coming back here. That's a big 2 points for us."
The 2 points put the Hawks 3 back ahead of Colorado in the battle for second place in the Central Division. The Hawks remained 4 points behind first-place St. Louis, a winner in a shootout at Minnesota.
Quenneville never lost confidence in Kane.
"I think when you look at him you measure his production by how he plays with points and goals and assists," Quenneville said. "But when he has the puck more he's more dangerous to achieve those type of goals. So hopefully he has the puck a lot and does his thing because his play recognition and making guys around him better is what he's all about.
"I thought Kaner was special. He was very dangerous tonight. He had some great looks and great opportunities. He was a threat and had the puck a lot on his stick. It's nice to see him play well here."
While Kane had the first goal, it was Jonathan Toews getting the winner 1:34 into the third period snapping a 1-1 tie. Toews stayed red hot, capping a fine passing play with linemates Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw for his sixth goal in the last four games.
Kane opened the scoring less than four minutes into the game when he snapped a shot over the shoulder of goalie Jhonas Enroth.
"I made a shot through the screen, and I don't think he ever saw it," Kane said. "I didn't even see it go in. I just saw the crowd cheering and heard some of my teammates."
It wasn't pretty, but in the end the Hawks took care of business and beat a team they had to beat.
"I thought we were just OK for the first 30 minutes," Quenneville said. "I liked the last 10 of the second there. I thought we had some high-quality stuff there. I thought in the third, with a 2-1 lead, we got a little loose, but we'll take the points."
This was the first time the Hawks played the Sabres when Ryan Miller wasn't either in goal or watching from the bench. Miller was traded to St. Louis last week and had won his first four starts with the Blues.
"He's certainly a top goalie in the game," Quenneville said. "He's always tough to beat and always seems to play well against us.
"I think St. Louis helped themselves with him in the net, and he's played well since he's been there. It's something that makes our division even tougher and stronger in that race to be in first place. It's going to be challenging for us, but certainly the ambition is to try to be first."
Defenseman David Rundblad was mostly unimpressive in his Hawks debut. "I think every day since he's been here I see him picking up the tempo in his game," Quenneville said.
"It's been while since I played my last game," Rundblad said. "I just tried to keep it simple and work hard every shift."
Drew Stafford scored the only goal for the Sabres, who fell to an NHL-worst 19-37-8.
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