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Streaking Patrick Kane on top after rough patch

Patrick Kane is receiving the accolades that come with the NHL’s longest scoring streak in more than 20 years.

“He’s the top guy in the league,’’ Vancouver standout Henrik Sedin said.

Which only left Kane humble. He knows he’s in a team game, and in a sport that celebrates in June, not December.

“I don’t know if I really look at it that way,’’ said the Blackhawks’ gifted winger. “That’s obviously a big honor, [when] someone like that is making those statements. It feels pretty good. [But] different players are good at different things. You’re always still trying to learn, always trying to get better. It’s kind of the group we have in here, I don’t think we’re ever satisfied with anything.’’

Kane extended his points streak to 26 games, the longest since Mats Sundin scored in 30 straight games in 1992, against the Canucks on Sunday. All-time NHL record holder Wayne Gretzky, who scored in 51 consecutive games at the start the 1983-84 season, remains a long way off.

Then again, so does September, when Kane was embroiled in the most troubling of accusations, a rape investigation that seemed to threaten everything.

There may yet be a civil suit. We may never really know what did or didn’t happen. But it all seems so distant now.

Maybe there has been a more complete reversal of fortune. Maybe not.

What’s really remarkable, in a way, is that Kane has been able to emerge from an incredibly dark period to a stretch of incredibly productive excellence.

A simple thing like not skating before training camp might have thrown some players off. At this point, Kane seems to be making a case for less summer ice-time.

“I was a little nervous because of the fact that I didn’t really skate much this summer,’’ he told ESPN.com recently. “I don’t know if I’m necessarily surprised. But I guess you never really know what’s going to come about when you don’t skate for a whole summer.’’

I asked Joel Quenneville if being on the ice was a refuge for Kane during all the turmoil.

“Well, he’s been doing this his whole life,’’ the Hawks coach said. “He’s always been a top player, motivated by being the best he can be and people around him are better when he’s on the ice. Tough situation, what he had to go through. I think his focus was in the right place on the ice. I think you have to commend him on that. ‘’

One thing that’s clear. For all the controversies, Kane is a good teammate who commands the respect and admiration of his fellow Hawks.

“He creates something every night,’’ defenseman Duncan Keith said. “It’s pretty special. A lot of it has to do with his work ethic and his desire, and how much he cares. His skill level gets talked about a lot. But one thing that doesn’t get mentioned as much is how much he cares, and how he wants to be the best.’’

Kane’s lone point against Vancouver was so shaky even he wasn’t sure he would receive an assist. But he also had at least three strong scoring chances, and drew attention that created room for teammates.

In other words, the streak is only underscoring the obvious. If Kane isn’t the best player in the NHL, he’s very seriously in the discussion.

“It’s not a question of if he’s going to score,’’ Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “It’s kind of when he’s going to get on the board. He’s just got that knack. When he’s feeling confident, there’s not much he can’t do with the puck.’’