Patrick Kane knows the Chicago Blackhawks aren't going to the playoffs.
But that doesn't mean he's going to simply lie down and allow opponents to roll over his team, especially when they're playing in front of 21,000-plus at the United Center.
"The biggest thing is just going out there and having fun playing hockey," said Kane, whose tiebreaking goal with 3:16 remaining helped lift the Hawks to a 3-1 victory over Boston on Sunday at the United Center. "It's really not that bad of a situation.
"Obviously we'd all love to be in the playoffs and be in a position where we can win the Stanley Cup. We're still playing for a great organization in front of great fans.
"You almost treat these games like playoff games. Just enjoy it and try to keep improving."
That's always been Kane's M.O., and while his numbers won't stack up to the previous two seasons, there's no denying how much better the Hawks are when he's at his best.
The perfect example came after Boston's Zdeno Chara caught Brandon Saad with a high stick and drew blood with 3:34 remaining.
Moments later, Kane accepted a pass from Erik Gustafsson, took three quick steps toward the net and whistled a shot past Anton Khudobin for his 25th goal.
"That's one of the best shots we've seen all year," coach Joel Quenneville said.
The Hawks (30-32-8) went up 3-1 on a Brent Seabrook blast with 1:05 remaining to win for just the sixth time in 20 games. Jonathan Toews had 3 assists, Erik Gustafsson had 2 and Artem Anisimov potted his 20th goal of the season to open the scoring at 7:26 of the first period.
Anton Forsberg made 31 saves to improve to 9-14-3.
Boston had its six-game winning streak snapped but played without Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Backes and stud rookie D-man Charlie McAvoy.
This will be the first time Kane and Jonathan Toews have not qualified for the postseason since the Hawks went 40-34-8 in 2007-08. They were just a couple of fresh-faced rookies back then, much like Alex DeBrincat is today.
Now, Kane hopes DeBrincat, Nick Schmaltz, John Hayden, Vinnie Hinostroza, David Kampf, Jan Rutta, Jordan Oesterle, Gustafsson and others step up their games in big ways next season. Kane also would love to see everyone use these last 12 games as a springboard to 2018-19.
"Hopefully we can take this momentum into next season," he said. "We've got a lot of young guys that are trying to get some experience … playing against good teams, so their minutes are probably increasing. They're getting opportunity, and it's good for everyone.
"We all love playing hockey, we all love playing in the NHL.
"So it's not a bad time to still be playing."