Kane's big night lifts Blackhawks over Sabres
Anyone who thought an All-Star Game, a bye week or a wicked polar vortex might cool off Patrick Kane should think again.
Right now, there's absolutely nothing that can slow Kane down -- and that certainly included his hometown Buffalo Sabres during a 7-3 Blackhawks victory Friday.
Kane scored 2 goals and added 2 assists on a night in which he became the youngest American-born player and fifth Blackhawk to amass 900 career points.
It was the third time in five games he had 4 or 5 points.
He has points in 10 straight games.
He has 31 goals and 44 assists -- a 49-goal, 118-point pace.
It's truly incredible and it's happening on a last-place team desperately trying to stay relevant in the playoff picture.
"It's hard to come back and play in your hometown," coach Jeremy Colliton told reporters. "Sometimes you're pressing and it doesn't always work. So really happy to see the puck go in the net for him. He just finds a way to produce. He makes so many plays."
The biggest came in the third period when he assisted on Connor Murphy's goal that extended the Hawks' lead to 5-3 with 8:36 remaining, and when he scored into an empty net with 2:47 left.
Kane's first goal came after he received a perfect stretch pass from Erik Gustafsson and fired a shot that made it 2-0 early in the second period. Kane erupted after the puck sailed into the net, ecstatic that he made history in the building where his dad took him to so many games as a kid.
"For whatever reason when you come back, it's almost like you have that little nervousness, anxiousness type of feeling," Kane said. "It's fun to come back. I mean, so many good memories here."
This one might rank near the top.
"You come here and you do it back at home with a lot of people here and a lot of people knowing that that's the 900th -- that's pretty exciting," Kane said. "It makes it even better. It would have been nice to get it before, but now that it happened here you think it worked out for a reason."
The Hawks' other goals came from Brandon Saad (2), Drake Caggiula and Duncan Keith. Cam Ward (40 saves) was terrific in net, with perhaps his biggest stop coming on an accidental Keith redirect just 10 seconds before Murphy's third-period goal.
The Hawks are now 19-24-9 and just 5 points behind Colorado for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. While that sounds like an easy hill to climb, don't forget they also must leapfrog over Edmonton, St. Louis, Arizona, Anaheim and Vancouver.
"I do think if we go on a run, we can pull some of these teams in and at least make it interesting," Colliton said on the WGN 720-AM pregame show. "We are finding our recipe -- or whatever you want to call it -- for how we're going to have success. It's just we've got to bring it every night."
There are plenty of winnable games coming up, including big ones at Minnesota (26-22-3) on Saturday and at Edmonton (23-24-3) on Tuesday.
• The Blackhawks assigned Henri Jokiharju to Rockford on Thursday. The rookie defenseman had no goals, 12 assists and averaged 19 minutes, 15 seconds of ice time in 37 games. Gustav Forsling was activated off injured reserve and notched an assist on Drake Caggiula's first-period goal against Buffalo.
Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild, 7 p.m. Saturday at Xcel Energy Center
TV: NBC • Radio: WGN 720-AM
The skinny: The Hawks are 2-0-1 against Minnesota this season. Patrick Kane had a hat trick and Brandon Saad scored twice in the teams' last meeting -- a 5-2 Hawks victory Dec. 27 at the United Center. Collin Delia made 46 saves that night as the Wild outshot the Hawks 48-20. … Minnesota (26-22-3, 55 points) lost 3-1 to Dallas (26-21-4, 56 points) Friday in a key division game. … Zach Parise (20) and Eric Staal (17) are Minnesota's leading goal scorers. Parise has just 1 goal in his last 11 games. ... The Hawks' streak of scoring at least one power-play goal ended at nine games during their 7-3 win at Buffalo on Friday.
Next: Edmonton Oilers, 8 p.m. Tuesday at Rogers Place
-- John Dietz