CHICAGO -- A few days ago, Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane
sat in a stall in the visitors dressing room at Staples Center and answered question after question about why he wasn't producing to the level expected of him.
He talked about sitting with his father, Patrick Sr., and watching video clips of past Stanley Cup Playoff goals, looking for anything that could help him shake his scoring slump. Kane met with the media again Saturday night, only the circumstances were far different.
Moments after sitting at a table and answering question after question about one of the best games of his NHL career, Kane walked into a hallway at United Center and had a present for his dad.
It was a 2013 Western Conference Champions hat.
Kane scored a hat trick Saturday, including the series-clincher 11:40 into the second overtime, to help the Blackhawks fend off the defending champion Los Angeles Kings, 4-3, in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final and advance to the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.
Game 1 against the Boston Bruins is Wednesday here (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).
"I mean, I expected more from myself," Kane said. "My teammates probably did too. You know, I tried to get back to the basics and wanted the puck, get the puck, try and make plays. That's kind of my attitude right now, I guess, is to do that."
It was the first hat trick in a game that clinched an appearance in the Cup Final since Wayne Gretzky propelled the Kings past the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1993. Kane had already scored one of the most iconic goals in Blackhawks history when he clinched the Cup with an overtime winner in Game 6 of the 2010 Final against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Now he has two, and a transcendent individual performance in an incredible hockey game. The Kings rallied twice, from down 2-0 and again after Kane put his team ahead 3-2 with 3:52 remaining in the third period.
It took a special play by two world-class players to finally knock out the champs.
"You know, when you're playing with [Bryan Bickell] and [Jonathan] Toews the last few games, you're going to get those opportunities," Kane said. "[It was] a couple nice plays by them tonight. They take up a lot of space at the net. I think I was the guy that capitalized on the chances, but it's always nice to contribute, especially in games like this."
Kane had no goals and two assists in the seven games preceding his long talk with the media Wednesday in Los Angeles. In fact, in 28 playoff contests after his Cup-winning goal, Kane scored three times before Game 4 of this series.
He had a goal in Game 4, but more importantly he was a dominant player again, creating chances and carrying the puck all over the ice. Now he has four goals in his past two playoff games, and those questions about his performance were quite different.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville had said the Blackhawks needed more from Kane. He responded in a big way, to say the least.
"That was more than more. It was certainly an outstanding game by him," Quenneville said. "He stepped up. He took on the responsibility of leading the team. [He's] proven he's a top player in the game. He made special plays over the two games. [It is] nice to see him finish it off in a real positive way for us.
"But, you know, top players, they want to be great all the time. Finding a way to be great in the tight checking that many teams have in our League -- [I] commend him on two outstanding games."
Kane's first goal in Game 5 came on a quirky play. The Blackhawks passed the puck around in their own half of the ice nine times, patiently waiting for an opening. Duncan Keith dumped the puck into the Los Angeles zone, then Bickell beat two Kings to it, and when goaltender Jonathan Quick tried to poke it away from him, chaos ensued.
The puck ended up at the edge of the crease, and Toews jabbed at it. Quick kept it out, but Kane swooped in, carried the puck to his left and waited for Quick and defenseman Robyn Regehr to dive then snapped a shot under the crossbar at 5:59 of the first period for a 2-0 lead.
Kane tried to wait out Quick on a chance late in Game 4, but the goalie robbed him with a glove save. Kane had nearly the entire net to shoot at this time and placed a perfect shot Quick had no chance to stop.
The second goal came with late in regulation, and at the time, it was the one that seemed likely to send the Blackhawks to the Final. Bickell took control of the puck from Justin Williams after helping the Kings forward to the ice, then hit Kane with a pass as he was cutting to the net. Williams and Quick were furious there was no penalty called, but Mike Richards' goal with 9.4 seconds left meant the Blackhawks would need more heroics, and Kane would eventually oblige.
After a bushel of chances at both ends in the first overtime, the second extra session was much more cautious and slow-developing. Kane and Toews nearly had a great chance on the shift prior to the goal and looked like the freshest players on the ice.
Bickell chipped the puck out of the Chicago defensive end, and Toews collected it in the neutral zone. He and Kane sped toward Quick on a 2-on-1, and again Kane needed a near-perfect shot to beat the 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy winner.
"I took the puck to the middle. I thought I got slashed a few times," said Kane, who slammed his stick off the ice in frustration after Williams slashed him earlier in the shift. "The puck kind of came off me. The shift went on, I guess. [Bickell] made a nice chip.
"You know, the shift before, actually Johnny had the same play and the puck fumbled on him. I knew he was coming back to me. Just tried to wait for the defenseman to go by me. Tried to get it off as quick as I could [to] the net."
After the game there were autographs to sign and family members to meet up with. It is probably a good bet Patrick Timothy Kane Sr., and Patrick Timothy Kane Jr., will sit down and watch this game again someday, and it probably will look like an amazing effort then too.
"Right now it feels like the best," Kane said when asked to rank his performance. "I think June 10th or June 9th a few years ago was also a good night. But right now I think it's almost like I'm in a different zone, like in the Twilight Zone or something. I'm kind of out of it. It's definitely a good feeling though."