When they needed it most, Patrick Kane did it all for the Blackhawks. The winger scored a goal and assisted on three others as the Blackhawks defeated the Jets 4-1 in a Central Division showdown Thursday night in Winnipeg.
In addition to his 19th goal of the season that sealed the win, Kane set up scores by Alex Nylander, Dominik Kubalik and Erik Gustafsson to help lift the Blackhawks to their second win in their last seven games.
Robin Lehner was outstanding in goal with 36 saves as the Blackhawks improved to 7-1-0 in the second of back-to-back games this season.
"It was obviously a big win for us (against) a good team," Lehner told reporters. "It was a good road game. We played really good the first 10 minutes of the game and obviously they switched momentum and had the next 10 minutes. (Then) we had the best third period with a lead so far this year. We did all the right things. We were patient and played good defensively."
Tucker Poolman scored for the Jets but it wasn't enough as netminder Connor Hellebuyck allowed four goals on 32 Blackhawks shots.
Already without Andrew Shaw, Calvin de Haan, Drake Caggiula and Brent Seabrook due to injuries, the Blackhawks lost Brandon Saad midway through the game with a right ankle injury. The winger was crunched along the boards the Jets' Luca Sbisa and had to be helped to the dressing room and did not return.
Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton told reporters that there wasn't an exact timetable for Saad's return but said the veteran will be sidelined "a couple of weeks."
The Blackhawks snapped a six-game losing skid to the Jets and improved to 14-16-6 on the season while the Jets dropped to 20-13-2.
Here are three takeaways from the Blackhawks' victory:
KANE'S 'MONSTER GAME'
Kane recorded his 12th career four-point game with a dazzling array of offensive moves along with strong defensive play to win puck battles and set up his teammates.
"A couple of nice plays, obviously," Kane told reporters. "More than anything, it's easier to play hockey when you're playing with a lead and you're focusing on the defensive end or just being where you have to be on the ice. (Then) all of a sudden they're pressing to get offense and score and it opens up more offense for us."
Said Colliton: "(Kane) was excellent. He makes a lot of plays and I thought he was working away from the puck. He created a lot of chances just from his back pressure. He finishes chances, no doubt."
To go along with his 19 goals, Kane now has 25 assists to move into the Top 10 in the NHL in scoring.
"He had a monster game (Thursday night) again," Lehner said of Kane. "He's a competitor. That's why he's one of the best in the world."
LEANING ON LEHNER
The final score wasn't indicative of the closeness of the game as the Blackhawks were clinging to a one-goal lead throughout much of the contest before putting it away in the third. The Jets came at Lehner in waves but the veteran came up big on several huge chances, including stonewalling Kyle Connor on multiple quality scoring opportunities.
"I think we played better (Thursday night) again but we still have some stuff to clean up," Lehner said. "I think they had four or five backdoor one-timers … and I was able to make the saves. But if we're consistently going to be at one (or) two goals against we have to clean that up because you don't make those saves every day."
Lehner upped his record to 8-6-4 with a .927 save percentage this season.
"We obviously want to play better in front of him, we don't want to give up as many ... chances against in our own end, but he's just answered the bell every time this year," Kane said. "Him and (Corey Crawford) actually are one of the reasons our record isn't even worse than it is."
NYLANDER NETS ONE
When Nylander scored on his first shot on goal this season during the Blackhawks' opener in Prague, Czech Republic, expectations soared for the winger.
But goals had been hard to come by before Nylander snapped a 16-game goal-less skid with his first-period score against the Jets.
Despite the drought, Nylander remained confident.
"That's a huge thing to always keep your confidence," Nylander said. "You have to keep your head high and don't start getting negative because that's not good. If you maintain your confidence and do the right things in practice good things will come back together in the game."
After arriving to the Blackhawks in a trade with the Sabres for defenseman Henri Jokiharju on July 9, Nylander has been under the spotlight to prove himself with his new team.
"I'm not really thinking about that too much, I'm more just thinking about game to game here and trying to play my best every game," Nylander said. "It's really important for me and I want to help the team win here."
Nylander's goal in the first period, which came as he drove to the net and redirected a terrific cross-ice pass from Kane, gave the Blackhawks the early lead against their Central Division rival. The fact it marked Nylander's fifth goal in 34 games this season is not lost on the rookie as he keeps tabs on his statistics.
"Of course you look at that a little bit," Nylander said. "I see where I am and I know where I want to be. I'm just tyring to get better. When I start doing good things, moving my feet and creating plays the bounces will come and good things will happen from there."
Colliton agreed that Nylander has to be in motion to be at his best.
"It starts with his skating, his work ethic away from the puck," Colliton said. "When he's got his motor going and he's pressuring and he's winning races to loose pucks then it makes it easier for the other parts of his game to show through. It's going to be an ongoing process. You don't just flip the switch and it's solved forever. It's something you have to continue to work at, especially as a young player, to build those habits that will last game in, game out, shift in, shift out. He's working on that and we'll help him."