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Kane finds support from Hull on verge of record

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- Bobby Hull had a message for Patrick Kane when they saw each other at an event for Chicago Blackhawks season-ticket holders on Friday.

Kane, whose 21-game point streak is tied with Hull for longest in Blackhawks history, said "The Golden Jet" hopes he sets the bar even higher when Chicago plays the Winnipeg Jets at United Center on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; TSN3, WGN).

"If it's meant to be, it's meant to be," Kane said after practice Saturday. "I think it's been a pretty good run. I saw Bobby Hull [Friday] night and he seems very supportive of where I'm at right now. It seems like he wants me to get it done too. His words of encouragement are, 'Get it done early ... then you can enjoy it.' It's been a pretty cool run and whatever happens from here happens."

Kane's streak is the longest in the NHL by an American-born player. He passed the previous mark of 18 games set by Phil Kessel (Boston Bruins, 2008-09) and former Blackhawks forward Eddie Olczyk (Toronto Maple Leafs, 1989-90).

Kane is the fourth NHL player since 1992-93 to have a point streak of at least 21 games, joining Boston Bruins center Adam Oates (21 games; March 4 to April 14, 1993), Ottawa Senators forward Dany Heatley (22 games; Oct. 5 to Nov. 29, 2005), and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (25 games; Nov. 5 to Dec. 28, 2010), according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Breaking Hull's mark would be just as special to Kane, who's in his ninth NHL season and has gotten to know the Hall of Fame player and Blackhawks ambassador.

"It's one of those things that, to be honest with you, with a couple days off it's tough not to think about," said Kane, who tied Hull with three points against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

"We had a season-ticket holder party [Friday] night and I saw Bobby Hull there and he was very supportive and he seems like he wants me to break the record. Hearing that support and knowing what's in front of you, it's pretty exciting."

Kane and Hull have some striking similarities as players. Each rose to elite status in the NHL at a young age. Each helped the Blackhawks win a Stanley Cup. Even their point total during their record streaks was the same (35).

Hull's record streak was set between Dec. 5, 1971 and Jan. 23, 1972, with 23 goals and 12 assists. Kane has 13 goals and 22 assists during his streak, which began Oct. 17 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the sixth game of the season.

"Just to watch what he's done already is pretty amazing," Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "He's been fun to watch. It looks like he's 6 years old out there, playing in a backyard rink, you know? He's just playing hockey and having fun. He's enjoying it and making plays."

He's shooting the puck effectively too. Through 26 games, Kane has scored his 16 goals with a 17 percent shooting percentage. That's a tick higher than his NHL career high 16.7 percent in 47 games during the 48-game regular season of 2012-13.

"As you get older and physically mature, you kind of understand what works and doesn't work at this level and against this competition," said Kane, who turned 27 on Nov. 19. "I think every year you're trying to learn a little more about your game, whether it's your shot [or something else], and I'm just trying to improve in those areas."

Kane's line with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov has provided the bulk of Chicago's offense, which is battling inconsistency among the other three forward groups. Kane has 16 goals and 25 assists for 41 points in 26 games; the Blackhawks have scored 71 goals, meaning Kane has had a hand in almost 58 percent of them.

"It's pretty remarkable," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "He's a threat every single time he touches the puck. It puts us in a good position. I don't want to say he's carried our team to this point of the season, but we're certainly fortunate with his consistent contribution. Hopefully he keeps going."

Anisimov and Panarin are playing their first season with the Blackhawks. Panarin is learning English but has developed a bond with Kane on the ice and in the locker room. Anisimov retrieves pucks, uses his 6-foot-4 frame effectively around the net, and has shown that he has a high skill level.

"I give them all the credit, to be honest with you," Kane said. "They've been very fun to play with, and it's been a good thing going here for the first third of the season. We always tell each other we're not happy with what we're doing. We want to get better, not be satisfied and keep pushing forward here."

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