Before Friday's game in Ottawa, Patrick Kane had only nine goals and 35 points through 50 games. He was also in a four-game point drought. You had to wonder how much the trade rumors were starting to affect him mentally as of late.
Fast forward to Sunday, and Kane suddenly has one of the hottest sticks in the NHL right now. He recorded a hat trick and added an assist in a 5-3 win over the star-studded Toronto Maple Leafs, two nights after leading the Blackhawks to a multi-goal comeback victory over the surging Senators thanks to a two-goal performance.
Kane was named the No. 1 star of the game and received a deafening ovation in front of a sold-out United Center crowd of 20,979, which was the second-highest attendance of the season.
"They were awesome," Kane said of the fans. "I thought they were really into the game. A couple times out there you just get chills with the way they were into it, with the team not doing well and the position we're in. It was amazing.
"The crowds have been great. They've been into every game. You can tell they want us to win. They're living and dying with us every game. It's impressive."
Kane told ESPN's Emily Kaplan during the first intermission that "it's easy, as a hockey player, to lose confidence and get down on yourself, I think you just remember you're a good player and capitalize on your chances." Safe to say Kane has his confidence back.
The weekend showing also might've been a message to teams that Kane's nagging hip injury isn't as serious as it's made out to be. Kane didn't take the bait when asked that question, but you could tell it felt good for him to have a performance like Sunday.
"Always nice to have a game like that at home," Kane said.
With the March 3 trade deadline less than two weeks away, Kane is expected to make a decision at some point this week. He holds all the cards because his contract includes a full no-movement clause, and Kane insists he still hasn't made a final call one way or another.
"I don't know," Kane said when asked what his gut is telling him. "I think if I knew that, I'd probably make the decision already. So we'll see."
Toronto was supposedly rumored to be on Kane's potential short list if he were to get moved. Kane respectfully denied that there was any mutual interest, which was a different kind of response from the one he had after the New York Rangers traded for Vladimir Tarasenko.
"I don't think there was — at least that I know of — much discussion of that being an option," Kane said. "I think there's a lot of different reports out there and not all of them are true. Gotta be careful what you listen to."
Nights like Sunday probably make it difficult on Kane when he thinks about the possibility of moving on from Chicago. He loves nothing more than putting on a show for Blackhawks fans, which he has done for 16 years.
"I mean, of course," Kane said. "Of course you want to play in front of this crowd and be able to perform," Kane said. "It's been an amazing place to play for my whole career, so of course you want to continue that."
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