Blackhawks

As expected, Patrick Kane ready to go for Blackhawks in Game 1

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As expected, Patrick Kane ready to go for Blackhawks in Game 1

The clearance came on Monday afternoon. The foregone conclusion came on Tuesday. Patrick Kane is good to go for Game 1.

Kane will play on Wednesday night when the Blackhawks face the Nashville Predators in the opener of their first-round series. It wasn’t a big surprise to get the confirmation, given everything Kane was doing in Monday’s practice. He was doing the same things on Tuesday, skating with Kris Versteeg and Brad Richards and working on the power play.

“It’s exciting,” said Kane, who missed seven weeks with a fractured left clavicle. “It’s been a long 50 days here, so it’s a credit to a lot of hard work from obviously the doctors and the trainers and just listening to them and trying to heal as fast as possible.”

Kane was originally expected to miss nearly two months, maybe even more, with his injury.

“It wasn’t in the cards knowing we had to get through a round or two before he could even be considered,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “This is a very positive situation for us, knowing what he brings to the table. He was having an MVP-type of season. Getting him back just makes you have so many more options. His versatility in all areas certainly enhances our team.”

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The Blackhawks head into this series just about completely healthy. Kane was the Blackhawks’ most consistent scorer when he was injured – his 64 points led the NHL at the time. Puck possession should improve again, too. Jonathan Toews said the Blackhawks fared pretty well without him but obviously get a boost with his return.

“Aside from the losses that we went into the end of the season with, I think we were playing good hockey,” Toews said. “We’re confident as a group. We made it this far, played a number of games without our best player and our top scorer. To get him back I think is only going to help us.”

As for the physical game, which is always that much more intense in the postseason, Kane said he’s ready for it. He’ll have to be; there’s no doubt the Predators will be trying to stop Kane with big hits. Kane said he’s as ready as he’ll ever be to absorb the punishment.

“We tested it out a few times, a few different things where guys run into me, guys checking me. I just kind of feel confidence there,” Kane said. “That’s another thing there for my peace of mind, just being confident with where I’m at right now and I’m not thinking about it too much on the ice, because it is in good shape and it is ready to be out there competing.”

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Still, there’s no way one of his teammates is going to hit him like an opponent would.

“I think that’s what starts everyone, that first shift, getting hit, getting pushed around. Handling that is something of anadjustment here but you can’t formulate that type of a hit until you go out and get hits,” Quenneville said. “It’s something he’ll deal with, adapt and play accordingly.”

Kane has the full green light. He’ll be tested as soon as he comes back by the Predators but he’s confident that he’s healthy and ready to go.

“We’re at the point right now where it’s pretty safe to go out there and try and compete and play. I think that’s important, too, not only for me but for the team, as well. Because I want to feel like I can contribute andproduce when I am back in the lineup,” Kane said. “By no means is it anything that we rushed back. I think you see different players go through this injury. Jason Zucker, I think he came back around the same timetable as I am. I think Brian Campbell in 2010 came back at around five or six weeks. So it’s an injury that can be healed and some people are a little bit more different than others. It’s just kind of my timetable, when I was ready to play.”

Jonathan Toews leading the way for bounce-back Blackhawks

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USA Today

Jonathan Toews leading the way for bounce-back Blackhawks

Patrick Kane is the one a hair away from 1,000 career points, but Saturday night it seemed liked Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was the one hungry for a major milestone. 

Toews sits at 798 career points after a four-point outing (two goals, two assists) in the Hawks' 6-2 win in Toronto over the Maple Leafs, giving Chicago their fourth straight win and a perfect three-game road trip through Eastern Canada with the first two wins coming against the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens. 

After a mostly up-and-down season, the Hawks are now three games above .500 (23-20-6) and four points out of a Wild Card spot with two games at home (Sunday and Tuesday) before heading to the All-Star break. 

"We take it one game at a time and I think we're doing a great job of focusing on the task at hand and whatever situation we find ourselves in, we're playing good hockey," Toews said. "It's fun. I think we're playing a complete game right now. We're showing each other what our potential really is if we play the right way and we're getting the results for our hard work."

The Blackhawks captain has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in a five-game point streak. After a slow start to the season, the 2010 Conn Smythe trophy winner is performing beyond a point-a-game pace since Nov. 2. 

Toews scored five-hole on Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen at 5:32 of the first period, then scored on a wraparound at 3:19 of the second. He later assisted on Dominik Kubalik's goal to put the Hawks up 5-1 at 10:58 of the second and set up Kubalik's marker at 17:42 of the second to give Chicago a 6-2 lead and the final score.

"Not a whole lot of leads you feel comfortable with against this team," Toews said following the contest. "They're pretty explosive offensively, so I think all five guys were pretty cognizant of who you're playing against and just making sure we're trying to frustrate them, take away their ability to create and our offense kind of came from that."

The captain's assist on Kubalik's second goal of the game was one of the most impressive plays of the season across the league. Toews backhanded the puck towards the net from the right wall and Kubalik hit it in cleanly with his blade in mid-air in front of the net past Andersen.

"I (thought) it was maybe a foot or two lower, like on the ice," Toews said of his impressive pass from the boards. "It was probably more my intention, but just kind of floated one in there and as they say, you can't give a good player a bad pass, I tried my best on that one and he still found a way to get a stick on it."

Toews seems to have Andersen's number. He's scored 10 goals on the goalie in his career, including five during the regular season and five across seven days in the 2015 Western Conference final.

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3 Takeaways: Jonathan Toews grabs 4 points, Blackhawks grab 4-straight wins

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USA Today

3 Takeaways: Jonathan Toews grabs 4 points, Blackhawks grab 4-straight wins

Here are some takeaways from the Blackhawks fourth-straight win as Patrick Kane continues his quest for 1K:

Streaking Hawks

The Blackhawks won their fourth straight game on Saturday in Toronto 6-2. The victory gave the Hawks a perfect three-game sweep to close out their road trip in Eastern Canada. 

The Hawks won 3-2 against the Senators in Ottawa on Tuesday and 4-1 over the Canadiens in Montreal on Wednesday. 

Chicago is now three games over .500 (23-20-6) and four points out of a Wild Card spot. 

Drake Caggiula scored 21 seconds in to set the tone and put the Hawks ahead 1-0 with a trick shot, bouncing the puck over goalie Frederik Andersen's back, from behind the goal line and later picked up an assist. Caggiula has points in two straight after grabbing a goal and an assist in Montreal.

His energy and buzz around the net has been incredibly noticeable and something that's given Chicago a lift during the streak and since he returned from a concussion five games ago. 

The Blackhawks play the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday and the Florida Panthers on Tuesday (Q!!!!), both at the United Center before the All-Star break. 

Saad returns

Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad returned to the lineup after being sidelined since Dec. 19 with a right-ankle injury. The Hawks were missing the winger who can be effective anywhere in the lineup and was one of the most consistently good players on the team prior to his injury.

Saad was given a big opportunity on Saturday, being thrown on the left wing of the Hawks' second line with Ryan Carpenter centering and Patrick Kane on the right. 

Saad had 19 points (11 goals, eight assists) in 36 games with the Hawks this season before being injured. On Saturday, he scored at 11:02 of the first period, putting the Hawks up 3-0 and giving Kane, who assisted on the goal, career point No. 999.

Johnny be good

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews kept up his stellar play of late and extended his point streak to five games, grabbing four points in Toronto. 

Toews scored five-hole on Andersen at 5:32 of the first period, then scored on a wraparound at 3:19 of the second. He later assisted on Dominik Kubalik's goal to put the Hawks up 5-1 at 10:58 of the second.

Toews also set up Kubalik's marker at 17:42 of the second to give Chicago a 6-2 lead, backhanding the puck towards the net from the right wall to Kubalik, who hit it in cleanly with his blade in mid-air past Andersen.

Toews has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) during his streak. 

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.