Patrick Kane won the Conn Smythe Trophy last spring. He's making a big push to do it again.
Kane had two goals and an assist Friday night to help the Chicago Blackhawks avoid elimination and force a Game 7 in the Western Conference Final with a 4-3 victory against the Los Angeles Kings. He has seven points in the past two games as the Blackhawks have come back from a 3-1 deficit to level this series with the Kings.
"It's amazing how he turns it on in these big games," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "I think a lot of guys, maybe, are making sure they don't make mistakes with the puck and getting rid of the puck in certain areas. But he's as calm as ever with it, even if it's late in the period and the ice is a little rough. He just keeps that puck flat and has his head up. He makes some amazing plays. So for him to come up with those two plays, on the tying goal and the winning goal, not much you can say. It's pretty amazing."
The Blackhawks have become incredible closers, taking control of series as they progress. Chicago has won 25 of 29 games after Game 4 in a series with Kane and Toews on the roster, including 13 in a row in 2013 and 2014.
Chicago is 12-2 in Games 6 or 7 in their careers. Kane has nine goals and 17 points in those games, including his famous Stanley Cup-winning overtime goal in Game 6 of the 2010 Final.
"You try to take it upon yourself to try and step up in big situations," Kane said. "But we have a lot of guys that do that. I think with our team and the amount of great players that are on it, it seems like everyone has their time to step up and have the spotlight and be in that moment. There's been numerous guys that have done it. When it's your turn, it's always fun to contribute."
The Kings scored two quick goals early in the third period and were less than nine minutes from a trip to the Stanley Cup Final before Kane went to work.
He received a pass from Andrew Shaw at the left circle and continued his momentum to the wall and away from the net. Defenseman Duncan Keith slipped behind Kings forward Trevor Lewis in the middle of the zone, and Kane fed him with a perfect backhanded pass for a shot past goaltender Jonathan Quick and a tie game at 11:34 of the third period.
"We get the privilege of playing with a guy like that every day and seeing the things he can do," Keith said. "Not everybody's going to dominate a game every single game, there's a lot of hockey, a lot of good teams and a lot of good players. But you know that when it comes down to crunch time, him and [Toews], I don't really know if there's two other guys I'd want to have on my team."
Kane put his patience and puckhandling skills to work again to score the game-winner. He and Brandon Saad chased after the puck as it went into the Los Angeles zone along the right wall. Saad got there first but left it for Kane. He stopped at the outside edge of the right circle to survey the situation, then skated back to the right point before turning toward the middle of the ice and shooting from the edge of the Stanley Cup Playoffs logo. His shot sailed through a tangle of bodies and found the back of the net.
"The two goals in the third were a result of giving Kane time and space," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "That's what happens. We've been doing a good job on him. The last two games we've let him off the hook a little bit. That's why he's the type of player he is."
Kane had four assists in Game 5 before his three-point night in Game 6. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first player since Vancouver's Cliff Ronning in 1992 to have three or more points in back-to-back games with his team facing elimination.
Kane was not producing to expected levels when the conference finals began last spring. He had two goals and 10 points in the first 15 games of Chicago's run, before scoring four goals in the final two games of the series against the Kings. That included a hat trick and the overtime winner in Game 5 to send the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup Final.
He added three goals and five points in six games against the Boston Bruins and captured the Conn Smythe. If the Blackhawks can win Game 7 on Sunday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS), Kane could be on his way to back-to-back Conn Smythes, something that has happened only twice in NHL history -- Bernie Parent in 1974-75 and Mario Lemieux in 1991-92.
"I don't think there's a player in the league that has a puck on his stick, time and possession in the course of a game, and he sees plays, makes plays," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "The bigger the stage, too, he likes that challenge.
"He's a special player. Like we talk about our team, the bigger the challenge, the bigger the situation. We don't change, we welcome the challenge. He can get it done as good as anybody in the game."
Author: Corey Masisak | NHL.com Staff Writer
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