Blackhawks

Patrick Kane brings big boost to Blackhawks' power play

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Patrick Kane brings big boost to Blackhawks' power play

NASHVILLE – Patrick Kane was pretty happy with his first game back after seven weeks.

Sure, there was the expected rust – every player says you can skate all you want but you can’t simulate a game until you’re actually in a game again. But the impact of his return was certainly felt.

That impact was mostly seen on the Blackhawks’ power play, which scored twice in the second period – 5-on-3 and 5-on-4, with Kane assisting on each – as the Blackhawks came back to beat the Nashville Predators 4-3 in double overtime.

Even when the Blackhawks didn’t score on the power play, it looked much better than it had in the regular season’s final weeks. The Blackhawks not only couldn’t score on it at the time, they had trouble even setting up an attack or maintaining possession.

Kane’s return changed a lot of that.

“Obviously having Kane back will always help us, be it power play or 5 on 5,” said Jonathan Toews, who scored the second power-play goal to tie the game 3-3 at the time. “When it comes down to it, when we’re playing well and we’re all prepared, our power play’s usually reflective of that. Last night we took advantage of opportunities in the second to get back in the game. The two goals we got definitely gives us confidence and reminds us if we keep working, we get those changes and they eventually go in.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up for the playoffs, Blackhawks fans!]

Kane played just over 23 minutes – including nearly six minutes of power-play time – of the double-overtime Game 1. He recorded four shots on goal. Kane said the rust, for him, was expected.

“The whole thing was timing, whether it’s with the puck, seeing certain plays, just little things like presenting yourself and getting a chance to get the puck in good space and moving your feet,” he said. “That was probably the biggest [issue].”

Kane teamed again with Kris Versteeg and Brad Richards, reuniting the trio that played so well earlier this season. The three didn’t recapture that magic in Game 1 but coach Joel Quenneville figures they’ll click again at some point.

[RELATED: Crawford will be back in net for Game 2]

There’s no doubt, however, that Kane made an impact in his return. He just proved to give the Blackhawks the biggest advantage on the advantage.

“Top guys in the league have great patience with the puck, play recognition. They settle plays down and when you look like you’re out of it and scrambling, they’re trying to get a puck back,” Quenneville said. “He saves a lot of those loose puck battles, sustains play in the offensive zone. He gives opponents more to think about.”

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

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AP

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident:

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

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USA TODAY

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

Win one game.

That was Joel Quenneville’s message during the Blackhawks’ eight-game losing streak, which finally came to an end on Saturday night.

How about a 7-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on home ice for a streak-breaker? Now that’s more like it.

Prior to Saturday, the Blackhawks hadn’t recorded a win in February — or a win at the United Center since Jan. 12. 

Though the Blackhawks will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were rookies, a blowout win over the leaders of the Metropolitan Division Capitals had to have felt great.

"It’s a nice way to get over the hump," Toews said. "Sometimes you might just win a 2-1 game or just kind of grind it out, but it was nice for us to fill the net the way we did tonight."

Added Joel Quenneville, "Certainly feels 100 times better than coming in and trying to explain how we had a lead and were unable to sustain it. The complete 60 minutes, three periods the right way, more consistency in our game, way more pace than we’ve seen recently, composure with the puck, shooting around the net. It was fun but that’s one. Let’s see how we respond to this because there’s a lot of hockey left."

The Blackhawks are 25-26-8 with 58 points, and are 11 points out the final wild card spot, currently held by the Minnesota Wild.

Among the highlights:

— Seven different Blackhawks scored: Toews, Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman

— The Blackhawks are 74-6-4 in the regular season in which Kane and Toews both record a goal — and 41-0-0 in their last 41 games, according to NBC Sports Chicago stats guru Chris Kamka.

— Kane registered career assist No. 500, becoming the sixth Blackhawk with 500 or more. Kane is also the seventh U.S.-born player with 300-plus goals and 500-plus assists, joining Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Pat LaFontaine, Joe Mullen and Phil Housley, according to Kamka.

"You think about the amount of great Americans that have played the game, how many players actually play hockey in the United States... Growing up all I wanted to do was play hockey," Kane said. "That means a lot, especially when you talk about American-born players."

— DeBrincat's 22nd goal of the season has him tied for the rookie-lead with Tampa Bay Lightning's Yanni Gourde. DeBrincat and Kane also lead the Blackhawks with 22 goals.