Patrick Kane-Jonathan Toews combo sparks Hawks in Game 6 victory

SHARE Patrick Kane-Jonathan Toews combo sparks Hawks in Game 6 victory

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has made some tough decisions in the Western Conference final — he benched Antoine Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen. He played David Rundblad, then switched Kyle Cumiskey. He stuck with Kimmo Timonen, then finally went to Rundblad.

What a luxury to have arguably the best trump card in postseason hockey to play at just the right time and make everything all right — when Quenneville reunites Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, good things seem to inevitably happen.

Looking for a spark after an “ordinary start” in an elimination game, Quenneville went to his so-called “nuclear option” midway through the first period of Game 6 against the Anaheim Ducks and struck gold again. The Kane-Toews-Brandon Saad line produced two goals — on by Saad, one by Kane — in a three-goal flurry in the second period to pave the way for a 5-2 victory Wednesday night at the United Center that set up a decisive Game 7 on Saturday at the Honda Center.

“Those two players by themselves are so great and dominant that when you put them together it’s a pretty dynamic duo,” Saad said. “I had a lot of fun playing with them, so I’m just happy to be here. Those two led the way.”

Quenneville played Kane and Toews together briefly in Game 5 in Anaheim and saw enough to try a larger dose with the Hawks’ playoff lives on the line

“They’re very high-skilled players — great pace, very competitive and great leaders,” Quenneville said. “Last game in the third they played some shifts and they had some good looks. That got us thinking about it.”

“We thought going in [to Game 6] we were ready to try it. Sometimes … you see what happens initially — whether you’re down, we were tired at the time. Just an ordinary start and it picked up.”

Kane works well on virtually any line. But playing with Toews often brings out the best in him.

“He’s a world-class player,” Kane said. “I think everyone would agree that from a winger’s standpoint, he’s probably the easiest player to play with in the league. He works so hard both ways; wins a lot of battles. He can do plenty of things when he gets the puck. Definitely a fun guy to play with.”

Kane was a minus-4 in the series coming into Game 6. He was a plus-2 with Toews and Saad.

“I didn’t really expect it, to be honest with you,” Kane said. “When he put us together I think we were just trying to do as best we can out there. We didn’t know how long it was going to last.

“But we scored a couple of goals and tried to play the right way defensively. That’s a big thing when you’re playing with Jonny. You’re going to play against good players, so you’ve got to be ready for that.”

But it was Saad who started the first-period flurry — three goals in 3:45 — that broke open a scoreless game. Duncan Keith fired a stretch pass to Kane, who somehow avoided a charging Francois Beauchemin and managed to direct the puck to Saad at the blue line, Saad’s speed created an instant breakaway and he beat Frederik Andersen for a 1-0 lead.

“He [Kane] got a pass in the middle and it’s not like he just tipped it,” Saad said. “He made a great play drawing the “D” in and leading me with a pass to give me time and space. He has great vision and made a great pass.”

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