Overshadowed by how well Patrick Kane is playing is that his line with Artem Ansimov and Artemi Panarin has been one of the hottest in the league. There’s been times this season where the trio have been on ice for some Globetrotter-esque goals, but maybe no goal this year more encapsulates the chemistry the three have shown together than Anisimov’s goal Tuesday night.
In the final minute of the first frame, Nashville was attempting to clear their zone when the puck took a favorable bounce for Chicago and hopped towards Panarin, who swatted the puck in Kane’s direction. With Panarin swooping behind him, Kane drew a Predators defender in before slipping the puck neatly to the Russian winger which created a 2-on-1 low in the Nashville zone.
Only Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis stood between Anisimov and Panarin. As soon as Ellis went down, though, Panarin slid a pass perfectly under the Nashville defenseman’s stick and onto Anisimov’s tape. In one motion, he pulled the puck back across the crease before slipping it five hole on Pekka Rinne:
The tic-tac-toe goal from the Blackhawks’ trio was the first of two goals the unit produced Tuesday. The other came when Panarin spun and fired a nearly no-look pass onto the tape of Kane to spring the NHL’s leading scorer for a breakaway. It’s not just outside observers who are impressed with the line, though. Even Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who is in his eighth season with Chicago and has coached some outstanding teams, said the line is doing things never before seen.
“Whether (the NHL) is figuring them out or not, they’re figuring themselves out as well,” Quenneville told the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc. “They’re doing some things we haven’t seen. They do different things and their anticipation and how they foresee what’s coming…Look at that Panarin pass to Kane, he knew he was taking off and it was one touch, boom.”
Following Tuesday’s game, Kane had an even bigger lead atop the scoring race. Through 49 games, he has 30 goals — tying a career-high — and 71 points. He’s only 18 points away from surpassing his previous career high, and 17 points from topping the point total of 2014-15 Art Ross Trophy winner Jamie Benn. As for Panarin, he extended his rookie scoring lead to 14 points and now has 16 goals and 45 points on the campaign.
That may sound like Anisimov is the odd-man out, but he’s on pace for the highest scoring season of his career. Through 48 games, he has 16 goals and 26 points.