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Start of something big for Kane?

by Brian Hedger
CHICAGO – It was only five games without a goal and four without a point, but it seemed like an eternity to Patrick Kane.
The Blackhawks' star winger was relieved to end his personal mini-slump Sunday with a goal and an assist in a 4-1 win against Calgary, and hopes it will spark a hot streak.
"It's nice to get on the score sheet again and be part of the win," he said after helping Chicago tie its franchise record for wins (49) with four games left. "I think we play better when I play better. That's a big part of our team, my production. But at the same time a lot of guys have also stepped up when I haven't been playing good."
Technically speaking, he's right. With Tomas Kopecky's goal to open the scoring Sunday, the Hawks now have 11 players with 10 or more goals this season, which is hard evidence of a balanced attack. Yet, it's just not the same Chicago team when Kane isn't able.
Ever since coming back from playing in the Olympics, Kane has battled mental fatigue. Now, with the season winding down, his inner drive is picking up again. Winning the franchise's first division championship in 17 years on Sunday and unseating rival Detroit atop the Central Division in the process were good pick-me-ups for Kane.
The looming playoffs and a last-week race with San Jose for the top spot in the Western Conference help, too.

"It's been a pretty long season, especially after the Olympics," Kane said. "It seems like it's been going pretty slow for me personally. You just want to get to the playoffs and play those games. The big goal is obviously the big award at the end of the year."
Kane was part of a recent lineup switch by Chicago coach Joel Quenneville. He moved Marian Hossa to the first line with Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews and placed Kane on the second line with center Dave Bolland and winger Troy Brouwer.
Chicago has now won three straight and gone from reeling to streaking as one of the League's hottest teams. The line shuffling, plus hot goaltending by Antti Niemi and a few defensive pairings switches, appear to be working.
"I think it gives us a little bit more balance," Kane said. "At the same time, you look at that first line of (Sharp), Toews and Hossa -- they seem to be dominating. Now we've got two lines that are pretty dynamic -- and actually three or four the way the third and fourth lines are playing."
The fourth line actually produced the first goal against Calgary when Kopecky backhanded in a rebound from a tight angle just 2:56 into the game. Brouwer then scored late in the first on assists by Kane and Brent Seabrook to make it 2-0 and the Hawks were in great shape.
The Flames, who are now 2-12 against Chicago in the past two seasons when including the playoffs, were impressed.
"They have great talent among the forwards," said Calgary center Craig Conroy, who played five years for Quenneville in St. Louis. "Their first two lines are as good as anybody, and their third and fourth lines are solid, too."
Kane's goal -- his 29th of the season -- beat Miikka Kiprusoff high from the slot in the second period to make it 3-0. Quenneville was pleased.
"(Kane) was real good today," he said. "He had the puck a lot more than he's had it in recent games, and it's a big difference in our team when he does have it, because he's such a threat."

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