Kane throttles Blackhawks to win over Wild with hat trick
How would the Blackhawks respond?
That was the question on everyone's mind at the United Center on Sunday after they closed out an 0-3-0 road trip with a gut-wrenching 4-3 loss in St. Louis by blowing a 3-0 third-period lead.
Considering coach Jeremy Colliton is currently using six players with under 55 games of NHL experience and a dozen with under 200, his injury-plagued squad could easily have continued its tailspin into the depths of the Western Conference.
But Patrick Kane would have none of it.
The Hawks' superstar -- who admittedly was unhappy with his play during the past couple of weeks -- scored the game's first 2 goals, then put the nail in the coffin with an empty-netter that lifted his team to a 5-3 victory over Minnesota.
"We needed it," said Kane, who upped his goal total to 18 and point total to 40.
David Kampf and Brandon Saad also scored, Jonathan Toews (3) and Connor Murphy (2) had multi-assist efforts, and Robin Lehner stopped 23 shots as the Hawks won for just the third time in 10 outings.
"Happy with the result and pleased we were able to finish it off," said Colliton, whose team is now 13-15-6 and 6-0-1 in the second game of a back-to-back. "Right from the start I thought we were engaged and doing a lot of little things right."
This was the fourth time in seven games the Hawks jumped out -- and then blew -- a multi-goal lead. In this case, Minnesota knotted things up on a Eric Staal power-play goal at 12:37 of the first period and a Kevin Fiala breakaway tally at 1:59 of the second.
David Kampf put the Hawks back ahead at 8:13 of the second, but Fiala tied things up again six minutes later when his centering pass deflected off Olli Maatta's skate and got past Lehner.
Unlike against Arizona and St. Louis, however, the Hawks didn't go into a shell and kept coming hard at the Wild.
"It's what you want to see -- some resiliency," Colliton said.
He was also thrilled to finally see some much-needed net-front presence. It was the primary reason behind Kampf's goal and Saad's game-winner, which game with 6:17 remaining. Both players got position near the net and deflected long shots from the point by Murphy.
"You just leave a lot on the table when you don't have that net presence," Colliton said. "You should have someone at the net and someone on the way all the time. Then any puck you send there can go in. So we're just going to keep working at it."
Kane scored 4 goals over the weekend after managing just 3 points -- all assists -- in the previous six contests.
"I don't think I've been playing as well the past 10 games or so," he said. "Want to start playing better for the team."
Kane's goal in St. Louis came when he skated to the middle of the offensive zone and caught Blues goalie Jordan Binnington leaning to his left.
Against Minnesota, Kane first scored on a wraparound, then added another less than four minutes later by going after a loose puck and working a pretty give-and-go with Toews. Kane patiently skated to the middle of the zone and snapped off a shot that deflected off Ryan Suter's stick and found its way past Kaapo Kahkonen.
"Both (first-period) goals that I had tonight, I get the puck and I'm moving and I have the puck in motion," Kane said. "That's something I'm always trying to work on, and sometimes when I'm not playing as well I'm kind of waiting around for it instead of going and getting it myself."
Minnesota fell to 16-13-5 and lost for just the second time in regulation in the last 16 games.