Blackhawks

Four takeaways: Patrick Kane shines in hometown as Blackhawks have offensive explosion

Four takeaways: Patrick Kane shines in hometown as Blackhawks have offensive explosion

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 7-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Friday:

1. Patrick Kane shines in hometown

When Kane returns to Buffalo, he usually puts a show on in front of his hometown crowd. Well, he did it again.

Just 50 seconds into the second period, the former Hart Trophy winner scored his 30th goal of the season, which happened to be his 900th career point in the NHL. He's the fifth player in Blackhawks history to reach that mark. And he didn't stop there.

Kane later added two assists and an empty-net goal for his third four-plus point outing in five games, and seventh-multi-point effort in his past nine games. He extended his season-long point streak to 10 games, and has 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) over that span coming off a month in which he was named the NHL's third star of January.

With the four-point game, Kane went from fifth to second in the NHL with 75 points. He trails only Nikita Kucherov (79) for the league lead. 

2. Cam Ward rises to the occasion

The Blackhawks may have scored seven goals, but it's hard to see them winning this game without Ward's performance. He stopped 40 of 43 shots for a save percentage of .930, and did his best to hold down the fort in the third period when the Sabres were outshooting the Blackhawks 11-0.

On the other side, Carter Hutton allowed four goals on 22 shots for a save percentage of .818 and was replaced in the third period by Linus Ullmark, who gave up two goals on seven shots for a save percentage of .714. Ward out-did both of them.

3. Answering back

After scoring the first three goals of the game, the Blackhawks gave up their first goal with 1:55 remaining in the middle frame that cut their lead to 3-1. But 1:34 later and 20.6 seconds before the period expired, Brandon Saad scored for the fourth time in five games to give his team a three-goal lead again. It was a great response.

But the Sabres came out of the third period flying, and scored twice within a 3:37 span to cut their deficit to 4-3. It felt like they were going to tie it up at any second.

But Connor Murphy scored his second of the season with 8:36 left in regulation that essentially iced the game as Kane eventually scored the empty-netter, and Saad added his second of the game with 46 seconds left. The Blackhawks never allowed Buffalo to even it up, and kept the Sabres at bay.

4. Shaking off a slow start

Going into Friday, the Sabres had already played in two games since the All-Star break. The Blackhawks were on a nine-day hiatus. And it showed early on.

The road team didn't record their first shot on goal until the 5:53 mark of the opening frame, and were outshot 14-7. Despite that, the Blackhawks got on the board first when Drake Caggiula scored his first goal as a member of the Blackhawks with 1:22 remaining.

Caggiula also added two assists for his first career three-point game and fourth multi-point effort of the season, his first with Chicago. He was finally rewarded on the scoresheet.

Andrew Shaw on his career season in Montreal and adding toughness to Blackhawks

Andrew Shaw on his career season in Montreal and adding toughness to Blackhawks

Andrew Shaw had a terrific 2018-19 season with the Montreal Canadiens. He set a career high with 47 points (19 goals, 28 assists) despite missing 19 games due to injuries and averaged 15:55 of ice time, which was the highest of his NHL career.

When asked to explain why he believes he had the best offensive output of his career, Shaw pointed to one thing.

“Honestly I just think it was the hunger for the game," Shaw said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "I missed nine months with knee surgery and concussions. I battled back to get back to where I needed to be and just started having fun again. Maybe I’m bigger, stronger, older. I think I’ve been in situations in games so many times that you’re better at reacting to them so I think that maybe that has a little bit to do with it.”

The Blackhawks reacquired Shaw because they've lacked some jam in their game over the past couple seasons. And looking at the other moves GM Stan Bowman has made this summer, it's clear that's an area they prioritized.

Shaw noticed it too and he's excited to see how it'll all come together this coming season.

“I still have to be me," Shaw said. "I still have to go out there and work and compete and bring the energy I’ve always brought. I think it’s the intensity and the love of the game that pushes me to do that so I think it’s something that others feed off of. With a couple other guys they brought in, too, we got a little bit more grit, a little bit more defensive game. I think it’s going to be a really good year.”

Check out the interview in the video above.

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Brian Campbell on Adam Boqvist's progression and preaching patience in his development

Brian Campbell on Adam Boqvist's progression and preaching patience in his development

The breakout star of Blackhawks development camp in July was undoubtedly Adam Boqvist, who was taken No. 8 overall in 2018. It was evident how much his game has grown over the past year.

Former Blackhawks defenseman — and now player development coach — Brian Campbell worked closely with Boqvist this past season and raved about the steps he took with the London Knights in the OHL. But Campbell is also preaching patience in Boqvist's development. Boqvist just turned 19 on Thursday, and it's important to let him develop at his own pace.

“Yeah, I was impressed," Campbell said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Obviously, he’s come a long way in a year from last development camp. There’s no pressure being put on him. He’ll develop at his time. If he pushes for a spot, great, but I just don’t want people to get away. There’s a lot to keep learning and he wants to learn, which is the greatest thing. His teammates love him: great thing. He wants to do extra and learn the game: great thing. He is preparing himself days before, even in development camp, he’s preparing himself days before. So all great things and he’s on the right path.

"Hopefully that happens and maybe it does happen but if it doesn’t then that’s not the case and he keeps getting better and wants to keep getting better. Definitely, we know his skill level is there and I think he’s taken a huge step in the last year in preparing himself and knowing how to prepare as a pro player now. There’s a lot of great things there, and hopefully he does do that, but for me, I just don’t want to put too much on him right now. He’s turning 19 soon so he’s still a really young kid and it’s a tough position to play at a pro level. Believe me, I’m smiling, but I just don’t want to force the issue too much. Hopefully he can do some great things, but if he doesn’t, then that’s OK too.”