Patrick Kane hadn’t gotten a point in four games, two periods, 15 minutes and 13 seconds.
For him, it felt like a lifetime.
“When it’s built up like that, you can feel that you need to get something going,” Kane said. “It was almost five [games] tonight.”
In another must-win game against a lousy team at home, Kane snapped out of his brief doldrums late in the third period Sunday night and set up Artem Anisimov’s go-ahead goal and Nick Schmaltz’s insurance goal less than two minutes apart to propel the Blackhawks to a 3-1 victory over the Coyotes. The two assists moved him past Doug Wilson for fifth on the franchise scoring list, behind only Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, Denis Savard and Steve Larmer, company Kane called “humbling.”
“It’s just as fun on the bench as it is for you guys and all the fans watching,” Tommy Wingels said of Kane’s sudden awakening. “And I really mean that. He gets a two-on-one — every time he could go and score himself, but he’s so unselfish on those plays. And it’s such a high skill level to make that play. . . . People in here, people in this city, are very, very fortunate to have a world-class player like that.’’
The Hawks are quite fortunate to have Corey Crawford in goal, too, otherwise Kane might not have made a difference. Crawford beat out Arizona’s Scott Wedgewood in a splendid goaltending duel, making 31 saves to Wedgewood’s 34. It was a 0-0 game through two periods. Wedgewood had two particularly great stops on Alex DeBrincat and Vinnie Hinostroza, leaving the former bent over and internally screaming in the first period and the latter staring at the sky in despair in the third period.
But Crawford came up biggest, gloving an Alex Goligoski shot and surviving a wild flurry in front of his crease just before Wingels broke the scoreless tie at 7:36 of the third period, banging in a backhanded John Hayden feed for his second clutch third-period goal in as many games.
“Maybe he should take days off all the time,” Wingels joked of Crawford, who missed three games with a lower-body injury before returning for this critical three-game homestand against league bottom-feeders.
Anthony Duclair knocked in a Goligoski centering pass at 14:02 of the third to end Crawford’s shutout bid and tie the game. But Kane found Anisimov off the rush just 71 seconds later and picked Max Domi’s pocket less than two minutes after that to spring a two-on-one with Schmaltz, who finished it off for the big insurance tally.
It wasn’t the prettiest win, and it wasn’t the most exciting win. Hinostroza was about the only Hawk who showed any urgency in the first two periods, and Crawford had to work a little too hard against a seven-win team. Kane admitted that it’s only natural to see a last-place team coming off a game in another city the night before and think it’s going to be easy — a mindset the scuffling Hawks can ill-afford.
But when it comes down to it, the Hawks entered this homestand on a five-game losing streak and simply needed to rack up some points to right the ship.
So far, they’ve gotten all four points, even if it has been a struggle. A win over the Panthers on Tuesday would give the Hawks the sweep they so desperately needed.
“There are no easy games,” coach Joel Quenneville cautioned. “But we have to take care of business on home ice. We have to put ourselves in a better position in our division, in our conference. You look at our road record [6-6-3], you could say, ‘OK.’ But we have to have a better home record [8-5-2] to be where we want to be at the end.”
Follow me on Twitter @MarkLazerus.