Hat-trick Kane leads Blackhawks past Leafs for 10th straight win


Hat-trick Kane leads Blackhawks past Leafs for 10th straight win

By Jessica Patton

Patrick Kane could do no wrong.

The All Star led the Blackhawks to a 4-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night at the Air Canada Centre, their 10th straight victory and handing the home team their fourth straight loss.

Kane, who netted the first regular-season hat trick of his career and added an assist, eclipsed his total point production from last season of 64 and now sits atop the scoring table with 67. He came into Friday's game 10 points ahead of second-place Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars.

The winger, who has two playoff hat tricks under his belt, said after the game that though he’s glad to finally get his first regular-season one, he wouldn’t trade those two from the postseason for anything.

“I think I’ve had a few two-goal games, but I guess it just never really happened. But it’s nice to get the first one.

"I think I have to give a lot of credit to my line-mates, sometimes you can say you're looking to shoot more but sometimes they create more opportunities for yourself to get in positions to shoot.”

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Scott Darling, who gave Corey Crawford a rest for the night, had a 28-save game including a sprawling glove stop on Leafs forward Brad Boyes to keep the game 3-1 late in the third period. His shutout was foiled by Morgan Rielly, who rifled in his fifth goal of the season 3:47 into the third.

Kane’s game-winning second goal came on the power play after the 27-year-old took a Matt Hunwick stick to the face. He repaid the hit by taking a cross-ice feed from Artemi Panarin and burying it from a sharp angle past Leafs netminder James Reimer, who made 25 saves.

“It was an unfortunate play,” Kane said when asked about the incident. “I am pretty good friends with Hunwick, so I don’t know what happened there. I was trying to go and get the puck and finish my check, and I got a stick in the face.

“It was nice to come back out and capitalize and more importantly give us the two-goal lead heading into the break.”

The Blackhawks came into the game as the NHL's best road team on the power play, with a 27.1-percent success rate and continued the hot streak, netting two more on the man advantage.

Kane, the Buffalo native, opened the scoring at 13:07 of the second when he buried the second rebound off a Panarin shot from the circle. Reimer made the original save and another one off of Duncan Keith but couldn’t control the rebound that landed right on Kane’s stick.

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Andrew Shaw thought he had the first goal of the night and his ninth of the season at 12:07 of the first when he scored off his own rebound only to have it called back on a challenge by Leafs coach Mike Babcock.

According to a statement released by the NHL, it was determined by the linesman after reviewing all replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations that Marian Hossa was offside prior to the goal leading to the call getting overturned.

The Blackhawks put the nail in the coffin early in the third when Leafs forward Roman Polak took the team’s sixth straight penalty and joined Nazim Kadri, who was already in the box. The goal was an exact replica of the Blackhawks’ second goal, only this time Kane fed Panarin for his 16th.

Leafs forward Morgan Rielly ruined the shutout for Darling, streaking in on the right side and rifling a shot through the netminder for his fifth to make it 3-1.

Kane secured the win and his hat-trick goal, an empty-net score that sent most of the crowd packing.

“It might be my fault,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said when asked why it’s taken Kane so long to record a regular-season hat trick. “I don’t play him much when we get leads like that. He had a shot at it the other day and missed the empty net. So it’s nice to see him finally get one.

“I had no clue it was his first (regular-season) hat trick, I would have bet he had more than a handful.”

Next up for the Blackhawks is a rematch back at home against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start


Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

Jean-Francois Berube got his first start of the season on Friday night, and it couldn't have gone any better.

The 26-year-old goaltender stopped 42 of 43 shots, a career-high for him in saves, in the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the United Center.

Since Corey Crawford went down with a head injury last December, the Blackhawks have been searching for consistency in the crease. 

The pair of Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass — who was assigned to Rockford on Feb. 15 and replaced with Berube — have had their ups and downs since then. With the Blackhawks out of the playoff picture, Berube had an opportunity showcase his skills, and he didn't disappoint.

"We were very happy with him," said coach Joel Quenneville. "I thought he did a great job. He was comfortable. I thought he was very patient in his net. Absorbing a lot of pucks with people in front of him was good. Closed some gaps and got … of the top of the paint. Rebound control was effective. Nice response from a long absence."

Berube's last — and only — appearance with the Blackhawks prior to Friday's game came on Dec. 6, relieving Forsberg in a game against the Washington Capitals. He recorded 12 saves of 14 shots. 

When Crawford got injured, Berube was the primary candidate to become the team's backup goaltender. The only problem? He was injured too, so the Blackhawks promoted Glass.

"I didn't want to sit and think about it," Berube said of his injury. "At the same time, it was great for Glasser. He was one of those guys that probably deserved it earlier in his career and he finally got his chance. Sometimes you need a guy to go down to have your chance. So I was mostly happy for him.

On Friday night, he got his chance.

"You always want to have a good impression for your first game," Berube said. "I know what I can do at this level, so it was just a matter of getting the opportunity to play and showing people what I can do."

Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. Artem Anisimov scored an empty-netter.

"It's a lot more fun coming to the rink when you're winning, enjoying each other, playing well as a team," Schmaltz said of the Blackhawks' win, which have now won three of their last four games. "Hopefully we can keep that good energy and bring it to the rink every day, and build off of that.

"You never know where this team can go, a lot of great players, lots of guys that have had a lot of success. Hopefully we can continue to put together solid efforts."