Blackhawks

Patrick Kane does best Denis Savard impression with highlight-reel goal in Blackhawks win

Patrick Kane does best Denis Savard impression with highlight-reel goal in Blackhawks win

Patrick Kane has scored so many clutch goals in his National Hockey League career that the list has reached a point where it's too long to count.

He's also become a YouTube sensation, known for his nifty puck-handling skills and ridiculous shootout moves.

He added another one to both categories in Sunday's 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens, and did so on the same play.

On a night the Blackhawks honored Denis Savard in their launching of "One More Shift" — an ode that recognizes past alumni and allows them to skate on the ice one more time — the reigning Hart Trophy winner did his best impression of the Hall of Famer by scoring an early goal-of-the-year candidate.

Late in the second period of a tie game, Kane undressed a Canadiens defender in front of the net with a smooth toe drag, drew a penalty, and, while trying to fend off a different defender, fired an off-balance shot that whizzed past Chicago native Al Montoya's glove and ignited a sold-out United Center crowd of 21,762.

"That had the wow factor all over it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Off that original play and then all of a sudden he makes a play with a guy draped all over him, makes a great shot falling to the ice. It was a spectacular play by a great player. Fun to watch."

It was vintage Patrick Kane, who showed incredible improvisational instincts.

“I just tried to make a play, got tripped up, at that point you’re just throwing (it at) the net hoping something happens,” Kane said. “I got lucky there. Nice to see it go in.”

It left Montoya in awe, too.

"There’s not many guys that can make that play," he said. "He’s one of two and (Pavel) Datsyuk is already gone. Heck of a goal.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The goal turned out to be the game-winner, the 46th of Kane's career in that category, passing Bobby Hull and tying Savard for fourth-most in franchise history. 

Even Savard, who coached Kane during his rookie season in 2007-08, has become numb to the special things Kane does and can do on the ice.

"That's what he is, that's what he does," Savard said during the second intermission. "He's the type of player that's going to score big goals on big stages. Not cause it's my stage tonight (laughs) because it's his stage all the time, but the fact we're playing the Montreal Canadiens, it's a big game for him in his mind obviously and he's going to try to be the best player that he can be out there.

"Pretty special goal. We've seen that many times. It's not the first one and they're tough to get, tough to do, and especially how he did it, it was pretty special."

It never gets old to his teammates either, including the 37-year-old Marian Hossa who's been around long enough to see some great ones.

"It was so beautiful," Hossa said. "Obviously he showed his quick hands, went through the two guys, saw the goalie coming, quick flip to the top shelf. Not many guys can do it."

Kane continued his dominance at home this season, where he has five goals and nine assists in 11 games compared to four points in five road games.

He's giving Chicago fans their money's worth, especially when he scores goals like the one he did Sunday.

Asked where it ranks among his top goals scored, Kane had to think hard about it.

And still, he wasn't quite sure.

"You know what, I think ... I don't know," he said, before admitting: "That was a different one, that's for sure. I don't know if I've scored going to the ground like that. Pretty cool for sure."

Artemi Panarin and desperate Rangers set to face Blackhawks

Artemi Panarin and desperate Rangers set to face Blackhawks

When you see a highlight of Artemi Panarin making a dazzling play — usually that results in the puck finding the back of the net — you can't help but think, 'He'd really look good in a Hawks sweater... again.'

Alex DeBrincat struggling to one-time the puck from the left circle the way he used to on the man advantage is one of the factors giving the Hawks the NHL's worst power play. Artemi Panarin was the guy who used to do that for the Blackhawks, and he rarely missed. 

Alas, the man of bread is locked up for six more years after this one with the Rangers at an AAV north of $11.6 million and his contract has a no movement clause. 

In June 2017, the Blackhawks traded the dynamic winger to the Columbus Blue Jackets, along with forward Tyler Motte and a draft pick, to re-acquire Brandon Saad and get goalie Anton Forsberg and a pick. 

Panarin, now 28, had 151 points (61 goals, 90 assists) with Chicago in two seasons after signing a free agent contract on May 1, 2015. He previously played in the Kontinental Hockey League. 

The 2016 Calder Trophy winner had 169 points (55 goals, 114 assists) in two seasons with the Blue Jackets before signing with the Rangers as a free agent. 

This year, his 78 points (29 goals, 49 assists) are good for fifth in the league. 

Last year, Panarin returned to the United Center ahead of becoming a free agent and had a friendly competition with Patrick Kane to see who would be last of the ice following warmups. Kane isn't sure there will be time for pregame shenanigans with his pal before Wednesday's game.

"I think we got that faceoff tonight (40th anniversary of Miracle on Ice ceremonial puck drop with Jack O'Callahan), so it'll be interesting to see what comes of that," Kane said. "I always try to be the last on my team, not really worry about the other team, but he's having a great season. 

"Obviously an amazing player, a player that you'd pay to watch play the game. Still try to stay pretty close with him and stay in contact and just kind of catch up here and there throughout the season."

Panarin has meant a lot to a Rangers team desperate to claw back into the playoff picture while sitting eight points out, just like the Hawks.

"Unbelievable," New York center Ryan Strome (brother of Chicago center Dylan Strome) said of Panarin. "The way he controls the puck, the way he controls the play, you guys were lucky enough to see it for a few years here. 

"I think he's better now than he was then. His game's growing, he competes on pucks really hard and he's been a silent leader for us. I think everyone sees how hard he plays and how hard he works and we follow. He's been our catalyst and he's done everything we could ask of him, so he's been great."

Strome thinks the Bread Man should be in the MVP conversation as well.

"Yeah, especially if we get in the playoffs here," he said. "It would be hard not to consider him. His numbers are ridiculous. I've seen some stats about Jaromir Jagr and some ex-Rangers that have put up similar numbers to him. To be in that category is pretty special. 

"You guys have seen it firsthand, the way he acts and how much fun he has doing it I think just rubs off on everyone, too. In such a serious season and such a serious business we're in, I think to have a guy like him, he's doing his leg kick and he's lightening the mood a little bit, that stuff is contagious. That's part of his personality and part of what makes him a great player."

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Zack Smith feels fortunate after coming 'millimeter' away from season-ending injury

zack_smith_usa_today.jpg
USA Today

Zack Smith feels fortunate after coming 'millimeter' away from season-ending injury

Zack Smith knew immediately something was wrong. Not because of the pain but because of what happened.

In the final minute of the second period against Vancouver on Feb. 12, Smith had his left hand stepped on by a Canucks player. The television broadcast didn't pick it up, but Smith quickly threw his glove off and went straight to the locker room fearing the worst.

"It wasn't a very painful thing when it happened, it just happened and I was like, 'That's not good,'" Smith said. "You feel a skate blade step on your hand, you know it's not going to look good. The trainers said they couldn't believe there wasn't blood on the glove because I just threw it off right away and went to the bench. I was pretty worried there for a bit, and then right away doctors were able to tell me, 'It's going to be fine. Just a few stitches.' Just a short time of panic."

Smith did not return to the game, but that was the least of his worries. And the Blackhawks, who weren't exactly sure what happened.

"Yeah, scary thing," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I didn’t see it so when he came off I thought he broke his wrist or something, we didn’t really know in the moment. But when you hear what happened and see the cut, it’s not a good situation. So, obviously happy that it’s not too serious."

It could've been much worse for Smith, who practiced with the team at morning skate on Wednesday and is inching closer to a return. He was close to a potential long-term injury but is now back on the ice less than a week after the injury occurred.

"It was probably a millimeter away from being the end of my season," Smith said. "I got very lucky. A couple of stitches and a few days off is all it's taken."

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