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Blackhawks: Patrick Kane tallies shootout winner in return to Buffalo

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Blackhawks: Patrick Kane tallies shootout winner in return to Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The boos Patrick Kane heard from the hometown crowd when he had the puck at times were a bit surprising, but Kane didn’t mind.

“I’ve been at a lot of games in this building when I was a younger kid. I remember them booing Eric Lindros when he was on Philly. He got thrown out of the game with 10 minutes left and it wasn’t fun anymore to watch the game because no one was booing him,” Kane said.

By the end of Saturday afternoon’s game, Buffalo Sabres fans had even more reason to boo Kane.

Kane scored the tying goal on a 6-on-3 power play with 33.5 seconds remaining in regulation, then scored the shootout winner in the Blackhawks’ 3-2 victory over the Sabres. The Blackhawks have now won four of their last five games.

Corey Crawford stopped 26 of 28 shots in overtime and regulation, and all three of the Sabres’ shootout attempts, for the victory. Dennis Rasmussen scored his third goal of the season.

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For Kane, it was a successful return home.

“Yeah, it was exciting,” he said. “We made it a little tough on ourselves to make it come down to the end there. Didn’t have a power play all game and we got two there at the end. It was nice that we took advantage of it. Great pass by the Bread Man [Artemi Panarin] there and nice to finish it off and tie it up; but [it was] definitely a special ending.”

It wasn’t looking like the Blackhawks would get any points out of this one. It wasn’t their best game, as they were quiet after Rasmussen gave them a 1-0 lead 6:04 into the game. Ryan O’Reilly scored with 3:20 remaining in regulation and the Blackhawks took a 2-1 lead into the waning minutes.

Then things got weird. Josh Gorges tripped Kane and Rasmus Ristolainen was called for high-sticking with 3:33 remaining in regulation, giving the Blackhawks a 5-on-3. Crawford came off with about a minute remaining in thegame to give the Blackhawks the rare 6-on-3. And with just one second left on the advantage, Kane took the pass from Panarin and scored.

“[Coach Joel Quenneville] was signaling me to be ready so I guess he figured if we had nothing going in the first minute there, then he would take me out,” Crawford said. “Good patience by Arty there in front of the net to get it to Kaner. He doesn’t miss too many of those in the open net.”

[MORE: Patrick Kane makes history in Blackhawks win over Sabres]

Quenneville admitted it was a risk to pull Crawford on the 5-on-3 – the Sabres just missed an empty-net opportunity wide once he left. But the risk paid off.

“You’re down a goal, not a lot was happening in that first minute. It’s nothing you ever practice, let’s put it that way,” Quenneville said. “We don’t practice 6-on-3 but I liked the guys we had on the ice.”

No, it wasn’t the way the Blackhawks would’ve drawn this one up. They’ll take the way it ended. So will Kane, boos included.

“I’m on the road team, they’re cheering for the Sabres. Nothing you don’t expect,” he said. “And sometimes that stuff kind of gets you into the game a little more, too.”

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Oliver Wahlstrom

Position: Right wing
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 205 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"Wahlstrom already has an NHL-caliber shot with a quick release and the ability to create space for himself and linemates. He's most known for his goal-scoring ability and elite shot, and can hit a one-timer as good or better than many professional players."

NHL player comparable: Phil Kessel

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks would probably prefer to take a defenseman at No. 8, but because four of them might go inside the Top 7, the best available player on the board is likely to be a forward. And there's a decent chance that could be Wahlstrom.

Wahlstrom would immediately become Chicago's top prospect, and a player that has the potential to slide into the top six when he reaches the NHL — whenever that may be.

He's committed to college for the 2018-19 season, so it's doubtful he would join the team until at least 2019-20, but Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley said in our draft preview edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast that it wouldn't deter them from picking him. 

And it shouldn't, because you don't want to waste a player of his caliber's entry-level years developing in the minors if he's not ready yet.

"I think the way we would evaluate it is, we project them, we try to get a timeline on when we think they might be NHL ready," Kelley said. "But we're also looking for where they are in their development curve and want their ceiling is. I think in some players, you have to be a little bit more patient for them to reach their ceiling. That doesn't necessarily mean that players can't exceed their development curve, I think we saw that with Alex DeBrincat last year."

NHL Draft Profile: D Rasmus Dahlin

NHL Draft Profile: D Rasmus Dahlin

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Rasmus Dahlin

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 181 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"Is the clear-cut No. 1, pro ready prospect for the 2018 draft. He has the skating, skills and elite hockey sense that can dictate the style of play and the pace of a game, whether it's with or without the puck. He finds ways to contribute and get the job done in all situations."

NHL player comparable: Nicklas Lidstrom

Fit for Blackhawks:

There is zero chance the Blackhawks can snag Dahlin, because it's highly unlikely the Buffalo Sabres would consider moving out of the No. 1 spot, and even if they did it would require a king's ransom. But for the sake of this exercise, what would Dahlin do for the Blackhawks organization?

Well, he's a player who immediately slots into your Top 4 and has the potential to emerge as Chicago's best defenseman in the next year or two. We're seeing it in Boston with Charlie McAvoy, Philadelphia with Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov, and Columbus with Zach Werenski and Seth Jones where these young defensemen are changing the directions of their franchise's.

That's what Dahlin would do for the Blackhawks, who are in desperate need of a young, impact blue liner. Now back to reality.