TAMPA, Fla. — Blackhawks star Patrick Kane’s eyes kept darting up and to the right during his scrum with reporters Sunday. The second game of the All-Star tournament, pitting the Atlantic Division against the Metropolitan Division, was on TV, and Kane didn’t want to miss anything.
Three years into the NHL’s three-on-three All-Star format, it’s still getting high marks from the players involved.
‘‘It’s the best format you can have,’’ the Stars’ Tyler Seguin said. ‘‘Playing the games five-on-five, the pace is just so slow. And I’m not saying it was crazy-fast today, but you’ve got to go a little bit so you’re not fully embarrassing yourself.’’
The Central Division didn’t embarrass itself in its 5-2 loss to the Pacific Division, but it lost early for the third time in as many years. It’s not exactly a gaping hole in Kane’s résumé, but he’s not exactly thrilled about it, either. He led all skaters with four shots on goal but came up without a point.
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The Pacific Division won the tournament and the $1 million prize pool with a 5-2 victory against the Atlantic Division. Canucks rookie Brock Boeser, with two goals and an assist, was named the most valuable player.
‘‘I’ve got to try to figure it out here,’’ Kane said, half in jest. ‘‘It was looking good there for a while. We were playing some pretty good defense up 1-0, then things kind of fell apart. It was a great weekend. . . . But it stings, three in a row.’’
Far more important, of course, is the Hawks’ run of nine consecutive playoff appearances, which is in serious jeopardy. The Hawks come out of the break four points out of the second wild-card spot. And after three breaks in barely a month — Christmas, bye week, All-Star weekend — it’s time to get serious.
‘‘It’ll be nice to flip the switch here,’’ Kane said. ‘‘We know what we’re playing for the rest of the season — to try to get ourselves in the playoffs.’’
Kane estimated the Hawks will have to go 23-10 to make that happen. That would put them at 99 points, so he’s not far off. The Predators and Flames got in with 94 last season.
‘‘I think our team could do it,’’ he said. ‘‘It’ll be a fun challenge going down the stretch. And if we find a way to get any momentum, I think it could really help us going into the playoffs.’’
Follow me on Twitter @MarkLazerus.