Hat-trick Kane leads Blackhawks past Leafs for 10th straight win


Hat-trick Kane leads Blackhawks past Leafs for 10th straight win

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.”

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Joel Quenneville has long been a player's coach]

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.

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

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.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns


Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Charlie Roumeliotis and Slavko Bekovic provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks’ 3-0-2 start.

They also discuss Brandon Saad’s demotion and whether it could serve as a wake-up call, Corey Crawford’s potential return on Thursday vs. Arizona and what could happen with Anton Forsberg because of it, and address the power play concerns.

The guys wrap up the podcast by making a few bold predictions going forward.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!

10 years with 'Coach Q' anything but ordinary

10 years with 'Coach Q' anything but ordinary

Over the last 10 years, the words “ordinary” and "OK" have taken on a new meaning to Blackhawks players and fans alike. 

That’s “Coach Q” speak. 

A language where “ordinary” means awful and “just OK” means you were a non-factor. The good news is the last 10 seasons under Joel Quenneville have been anything but ordinary at the United Center. 

On Oct. 16th, 2008, the Blackhawks let go of fan-favorite Denis Savard after a 1-2-1 start to the season and named Quenneville as head coach in his place. Quenneville coached the Colorado Avalanche the previous season, but after another disappointing exit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the two mutually parted ways. He had originally planned to stay away from the bench for at least a season, but the Blackhawks triumvirate of Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough and then-GM Dale Tallon brought Quenneville on as a scout and then handed him the keys to the car shortly after.

“Dale’s obligation is to put together a winning team,” said McDonough at Quenneville’s introductory press conference. “At this point, Joel is the coach of that team.”

It was an emotional day at the Blackhawks offices. Savard – a Blackhawks legend on the ice and a coach the players held in high regard – was let go just as things started to turn upwards for the organization. The end of the 2007-2008 season saw the Blackhawks once again miss out on the playoffs, but the fans began to flock to the United Center once more, and the hype train around the young team built around Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane was gaining steam.

“Moving forward, if we want to be a championship-caliber organization, we have to make tough decisions,” said Tallon. “This was the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make.” 

Savard was 65-66-16 in parts of three seasons as head coach of the Blackhawks. Meanwhile, Quenneville had compiled eight 95+ point seasons behind the bench for the Blues and Avalanche in his 11 years as a head coach.

“We felt the experience and the track record of Joel would be a balance that we needed with a young, inexperienced team,” said Tallon. "Joel brings us a wealth of experience and a winning track record that will have an immediate and lasting impact."

The gamble paid off for the Blackhawks in a major way. Once Quenneville took over, the team got to the sought-after next level. 

They finished the 08-09 season with 104 points, third-most in the NHL’s Western Conference, had a franchise-record setting 9-game win streak in the month of December and returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 2001-2002 season. The “young and inexperienced” Blackhawks took the league by storm, dropping the Calgary Flames in the first round of the playoffs in six games before taking down the rival Canucks in the next round.

They ultimately lost out to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals, but the bar was now set for the organization. From then on, the Blackhawks were Stanley Cup contenders. 

Quenneville currently ranks 2nd in franchise history with 449 wins, trailing only Billy Reay’s 516. 

But most importantly, Quenneville’s 76 playoff wins rank at the top in the organization’s long and storied history, and those three Stanley Cups that he’s raised over his head were anything but “ordinary.”