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Patrick Kane ready to lead Blackhawks in Game 4

Forward out to help Chicago keep season alive against Predators on Thursday

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director of Editorial

NASHVILLE -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane has one goal in the Western Conference First Round series against the Nashville Predators.

The fact that his one goal, in the second period of Game 3 on Monday, is half of Chicago's total in the series is little consolation to Kane. He knows he has to give more, produce more, for the Blackhawks to stay alive after losing the first three games of the best-of-7 series.

Game 4 is Thursday at Bridgestone Arena (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports 3; FS-TN, CSN-CH).

If the Blackhawks are to become the fifth team in NHL history to win a series after trailing 3-0, Kane expects he will have to lead the way.

This is not boasting on his part, but rather the reality facing the Blackhawks, who had much higher expectations than facing a do-or-die game in the fourth game of their postseason.

"You need your best players [at] this time of year to step up and be your best players," Kane said after a short, intense practice Wednesday. "I think throughout the playoffs, as time goes on, you kind of see some depth guys, they step up and have big games. But, at times like this, I think it's the top guys who probably need to lead the charge."

Nobody on the Blackhawks leads the charge better than Kane; he has scored some of the biggest postseason goals in their history.

His overtime goal against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final is the most iconic, a down-the-wing shot that eluded Michael goaltender Michael Leighton and gave Chicago the first of three championships in the past seven seasons. But there have been so many others.

Video: CHI@NSH, Gm3: Kane scores 50th career playoff goal

The Predators know this as much as any team.

In 2010, Kane broke their hearts for the first time. In Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, the underdog Predators were clinging to a one-goal lead and on the power play in the final minute of the third period. If they had hung on, they would have been one win away from eliminating the Blackhawks.

Instead, Kane scored the tying goal with 14 seconds left. Marian Hossa, who was the Chicago player in the penalty box, won it at 4:07 of overtime, and the Blackhawks went on to win the series in six games.  

Two years ago, again in the first round, Nashville had a 3-2 lead against Chicago in the first period of Game 6 and seemed poised to go into the dressing room with all the momentum. Kane scored with six seconds remaining in the period, and Chicago won 4-3 to advance.

Kane will be have opportunity to repeat his magic with the Blackhawks facing dire circumstances. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville has never been shy about double-shifting, and even triple-shifting, his most dangerous offensive player. He knows Kane is smart enough to save energy to have that extra gear when it is needed most.  

Kane played 28:25 in Game 3 on Monday, second only to defenseman Duncan Keith (32:27) among Blackhawks. Kane scored Chicago's second goal, on the power play, at 11:15 of the second period. He also took nine of Chicago's 36 shots.

Video: CHI@TBL: Kane cranks a wrister past Vasilevskiy

"Kane is one guy you have to appreciate [who] wants to be out there," Quenneville said. "He wants the puck and he makes guys around him better and he's a threat for the opponents as far as matchups and how he can penetrate the zone with possession. I think there's a lot of things that go into his game that are concerning for them. 

"Having him out there is a great asset for us and I look at Kaner when he comes to the bench, I'm thinking if he goes every other shift, he's fine. A lot of times when I think he might be not ready to go and I'll ask him. I don't think he's declined maybe one or two [times] when he couldn't do it. It's almost 99.5 [percent] that he's going."

Kane talked on Wednesday about not thinking about taking over a game and how such thoughts can lead to getting away from the team game. Soon after, perhaps with the memories of so many clutch goals racing through his head, Kane said he will want the puck as often as he can get it.

"When the opportunity is there, especially in last game, I started to demand the puck a little bit more, and I think that's something as the series goes on that you want to do even more and more," he said. "Try to get the puck as much as possible, try to make good plays, try to be a good teammate, try to play a team game, as well. 

"I think it's important when you're on the ice to feel confident about what you can do out there."

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