CHICAGO – Just when the Chicago Blackhawks think Patrick Kane has performed every possible stick-on-puck magic trick, he does something seemingly impossible to amaze them yet again.
Kane’s spectacular, unassisted goal – just 3:25 after Minnesota had made it a one-goal game – helped the Blackhawks to a 3-1 victory Monday night and dropped the Wild to 0-8 on the road.
“He’s got a few tricks that probably still haven’t come out,” teammate Dave Bolland said.
Cristobal Huet made 20 saves and extended his shutout streak to 113 minutes, 2 seconds before Andrew Brunette’s power-play goal on a wild scramble in front of the net cut Chicago’s lead to 2-1 at 3:29 of the third.
The Wild’s momentum ended when Kane stole the puck from Eric Belanger in the right corner. Kane skated behind the net and, when he couldn’t find an open teammate, weaved his way to the lower left circle. He then wheeled around and lifted the puck into a tiny gap between goalie Niklas Backstrom’s right shoulder and the crossbar.
“A pretty sick shot,” Bolland said. “There was only an inch or two.”
Kane said he had been working on the move for years in practice and was glad to finally use it in a game.
“It’s got to be a perfect shot,” he said. “It’s lucky, too – kind of shoot and pray it goes in.”
It was the 50th career goal and fourth this season for Kane, the league’s top rookie in 2007-08. He doesn’t turn 21 until next month.
“(Team media relations director) Brandon Faber made me feel real good,” Kane said. “He said I’ve got 560 more to catch Bobby Hull.”
Minnesota became the first NHL team to earn zero points in its opening eight road games since Pittsburgh in 1996. The Wild, which has been outscored 28-13 on the road under rookie coach Todd Richards, clinched its first losing October in five years.
“If we want to make the playoffs, we have to play about .500 on the road, so there are a lot of things we have to catch up on,” Backstrom said. “It doesn’t matter if the system is new. You have to find a way to win … and pretty soon. Time is running out.”
Bolland and Troy Brouwer scored in the first period for the Blackhawks. Brouwer’s power-play goal, after Tomas Kopecky kept the puck alive with some nice hustle in front of the net, snapped the Blackhawks’ three-game, 0-for-12 slump with the man-advantage.
The game marked the return of Martin Havlat, Chicago’s leading scorer last season who was allowed to leave as a free agent after the Blackhawks signed Marian Hossa to a US$62.8-million, 12-year contract.
He was turned away by Huet on the game’s first shot and didn’t get the puck to the net again the rest of the night.
“It was strange playing against the same guys you were with the last three years,” said Havlat, who was angry that the Blackhawks didn’t re-sign him. “They got the first goal, and Huet played well. We just couldn’t put anything in, and that was it.”
Notes: Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews and D Brent Seabrook each missed a second consecutive game with what are believed to be concussion-related symptoms. Both were hurt in Wednesday’s loss to Vancouver and are listed at day-to-day. … The Wild had won six of their previous seven games at the United Center. … Wild C Mikko Koivu has a goal and three assists in three games since being named first captain in team history last week.