By Jessica Patton
Patrick Kane could do no wrong.
The All Star led the Blackhawks to a 4-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night at the Air Canada Centre, their 10th straight victory and handing the home team their fourth straight loss.
Kane, who netted the first regular-season hat trick of his career and added an assist, eclipsed his total point production from last season of 64 and now sits atop the scoring table with 67. He came into Friday's game 10 points ahead of second-place Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars.
The winger, who has two playoff hat tricks under his belt, said after the game that though he’s glad to finally get his first regular-season one, he wouldn’t trade those two from the postseason for anything.
“I think I’ve had a few two-goal games, but I guess it just never really happened. But it’s nice to get the first one.
"I think I have to give a lot of credit to my line-mates, sometimes you can say you're looking to shoot more but sometimes they create more opportunities for yourself to get in positions to shoot.”
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Scott Darling, who gave Corey Crawford a rest for the night, had a 28-save game including a sprawling glove stop on Leafs forward Brad Boyes to keep the game 3-1 late in the third period. His shutout was foiled by Morgan Rielly, who rifled in his fifth goal of the season 3:47 into the third.
Kane’s game-winning second goal came on the power play after the 27-year-old took a Matt Hunwick stick to the face. He repaid the hit by taking a cross-ice feed from Artemi Panarin and burying it from a sharp angle past Leafs netminder James Reimer, who made 25 saves.
“It was an unfortunate play,” Kane said when asked about the incident. “I am pretty good friends with Hunwick, so I don’t know what happened there. I was trying to go and get the puck and finish my check, and I got a stick in the face.
“It was nice to come back out and capitalize and more importantly give us the two-goal lead heading into the break.”
The Blackhawks came into the game as the NHL's best road team on the power play, with a 27.1-percent success rate and continued the hot streak, netting two more on the man advantage.
Kane, the Buffalo native, opened the scoring at 13:07 of the second when he buried the second rebound off a Panarin shot from the circle. Reimer made the original save and another one off of Duncan Keith but couldn’t control the rebound that landed right on Kane’s stick.
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Andrew Shaw thought he had the first goal of the night and his ninth of the season at 12:07 of the first when he scored off his own rebound only to have it called back on a challenge by Leafs coach Mike Babcock.
According to a statement released by the NHL, it was determined by the linesman after reviewing all replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations that Marian Hossa was offside prior to the goal leading to the call getting overturned.
The Blackhawks put the nail in the coffin early in the third when Leafs forward Roman Polak took the team’s sixth straight penalty and joined Nazim Kadri, who was already in the box. The goal was an exact replica of the Blackhawks’ second goal, only this time Kane fed Panarin for his 16th.
Leafs forward Morgan Rielly ruined the shutout for Darling, streaking in on the right side and rifling a shot through the netminder for his fifth to make it 3-1.
Kane secured the win and his hat-trick goal, an empty-net score that sent most of the crowd packing.
“It might be my fault,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said when asked why it’s taken Kane so long to record a regular-season hat trick. “I don’t play him much when we get leads like that. He had a shot at it the other day and missed the empty net. So it’s nice to see him finally get one.
“I had no clue it was his first (regular-season) hat trick, I would have bet he had more than a handful.”
Next up for the Blackhawks is a rematch back at home against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday.