Patrick Kane suggested that it is good to get certain “things out of the way”—as if he were mulling mundane chores like taking out the garbage or filing one’s income tax form.
He did confess that reaching the 100-point mark for the first time in his career via Sunday’s hat trick was pretty cool and special, but this is the ultimate team game, and two points for the Blackhawks after a 6-4 victory over the desperate Boston Bruins felt even better on a milestone afternoon at the United Center.
When Kane notched his third goal of the day and 43rd of his best season midway in the second period, many in the throng of 22,156 shed their headgear—all the better for Kane to pay homage to friends and family in the stands. Mom and Dad were watching on TV, as was a national audience on NBC.
The Blackhawks led 6-0 and had the puck on a string. Like the Harlem Globetrotters or the Gretzky Edmonton Oilers, it appeared that the defending Stanley Cup champions could name their score. Alas, as though the squads traded sweaters late in the middle period, the Bruins stormed Scott Darling for four goals before Head Coach Joel Quenneville could bank his 800th National Hockey League victory.
All that was missing was Marian Hossa’s 500th goal, not that his mates didn’t try to arrange it before the future Hall of Famer bowed with an injury, not believed to be serious.
“For it to happen in front of the home crowd is pretty special,” offered Kane, the NHL’s scoring leader and the first Blackhawk to reach triple digits since Jeremy Roenick (46 goals, 61 assists for 107 points in 1993-94). Kane added his 57th assist on the Blackhawks’ fifth goal by Artemi Panarin. Those two and center Artem Anisimov were flying from the 11:30 a.m. puck drop and registered 11 points in 2 and a half hours.
“I think the last maybe 3, 4, 5 games we’ve been doing some good things,” Kane went on. “We realized teams were kind of defending us a little bit differently, so we had to adjust some things.”
Kane is accustomed to having big years. As Chris Kuc deftly detailed in Sunday’s Chicago Tribune, Kane amassed 58 goals and 62 assists in just 58 games with the London Knights in 2006-07. Since joining the Blackhawks, he has been a constant. But this season he has elevated, and as Coach Q noted, 100 points in the NHL now is a headline. Last year’s scoring champion, Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars, won the title with 87.
True to form, Kane spoke softly afterward, his tone a complete opposite of the expressive individual he is in skates. And after getting certain things out of the way, Kane turned to the standings. Yes, the St. Louis Blues can still be caught for second place.
One more hallmark moment. Retiring linesman Andy McElman officiated his 1,500th game, a career duly noted beforehand with jerseys from both teams and handshakes. When it was over, the Bruins and Blackhawks lined up to say thanks, some with hugs. As ever, hockey is about respect among the stars and stripes.