CHICAGO – Patrick Kane has scored bigger goals in his NHL career. Winning the Stanley Cup in overtime sets the bar awfully high.
By scoring twice in Game 5 of this year’s final, all Kane did was put the Chicago Blackhawks within one victory of their second championship in four years with Saturday’s 3-1 victory over the Boston Bruins.
“I think everyone wants to be that guy in big-time games,” Kane said. “I’ve been lucky enough in a couple to step up.”
Kane stepping up in Game 5 couldn’t have happened at a better time for the Blackhawks, as captain Jonathan Toews left with an unspecified injury. The series took a turn with Toews’ departure and an injury to Patrice Bergeron that forced the Bruins centre to be taken to a local hospital for observation.
With arguably the two best skaters out, it was Kane’s opportunity to shine. He did so with his second multi-goal game of these playoffs and furthered his status as a clutch performer.
“I don’t think this game had to happen to define Kaner as a big-time player,” Chicago left-winger Patrick Sharp said. “He’s had plenty of opportunities, and he showed up in big games with big performances. I knew he was a big time player before tonight.”
Kane took over the game like few players can. When he had open ice, he wanted the puck on his stick and always was a threat to score.
When Johnny Oduya’s shot broke Dennis Seidenberg’s stick on the way to the net, Kane was there to put in the rebound to open the scoring. Crashing the net in the second put him in the perfect spot to beat goaltender Tuukka Rask after a heads-up play by linemate Bryan Bickell.
“Sometimes you catch some breaks,” Kane said. “I think I was in the right spot at the right time tonight on both goals. I thought I had some other chances, too, I could have scored. But I think playing with Johnny and Bicks, they create a lot of space, and I’ve been taking advantage of the space they do make.”
Toews was a focus for the Bruins, who hit him at every opportunity. Boston defenceman Johnny Boychuk appeared to hit him in the head in the second period, though Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said he wasn’t sure if that was what caused Toews’ injury.
With Chicago clawing to a third-period lead that Bruins captain Zdeno Chara cut in half with his first goal of the final, Toews sat on the bench but did not take a shift. He wanted to play, according to Quenneville, who said he was hopeful that Toews would return for Game 6 Monday night at TD Garden.
Quenneville called Toews day-to-day with an upper-body injury. The 25-year-old centre did not speak to reporters but seemed to be in good spirits as he signed autographs and talked to friends on his way out of the arena.
For the final stretch of Game 5 Saturday night, all he could do was provide some moral support.
“He was there to chatter a little bit on the bench and keep us into it,” Sharp said. “He’s part of the team, obviously, and it was great to have everybody together.”
Bergeron couldn’t even do that. He was taken by ambulance to a local hospital for observation, the team announced. Bruins coach Claude Julien did not have an update after the game and bristled at questions about the injury.
“Not much I can say on his situation,” Julien said. “It’s just an injury that wasn’t able to let him finish the game. He may be in next game.”
A source with direct knowledge of Bergeron’s injury called his trip to the hospital “precautionary.” He reportedly walked to the ambulance under his own power.
If Toews and Bergeron cannot play in Game 6, the complexion of the series changes.
“That kind of evens itself out if that’s the case,” Julien said. “But there’s still a lot of good players on both teams that can certainly make things happen.”
Kane is chief among them. The man whose overtime winner against the Philadelphia Flyers gave the Blackhawks the 2010 Stanley Cup was the one most responsible for getting his team back in the same spot three years later.
“I think it’s exciting to be back in that situation again,” Kane said. “This is what you work for all year, all summer, when you’re training throughout the year at training camp, whatever it may be. This is what you work for, this opportunity. We’ve got to seize the moment and take advantage of it.”