The Blackhawks were sleepwalking toward a devastating home loss against one of the worst teams in the NHL on Thursday before the man who always bails them out struck again.
Patrick Kane woke them up by weaving through the Devils and putting a wrist shot in the back of the net late in the first period, and the Hawks raced to a 5-2 victory. It was their eighth win in the last nine games, and it brought them within two points of a wild-card spot.
“[Kane is] a threat whenever he’s on the ice,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “As soon as he steps on, the other team needs to be aware of him. If they’re not, he can hurt you.”
The Hawks fell behind 2-0 before Kane salvaged the first period. Drake Caggiula tied the game 20 seconds into the second period, Jonathan Toews put them ahead later in the period and they wrapped it up with two goals in the third.
Kane has been on fire for two months and extended the league’s longest active point streak to 16 games with his goal and two assists. He has 12 goals and 23 assists during this run.
At 34 goals, he already has matched his second-best mark and is on pace to surpass his career-high 46 from 2015-16.
“Sometimes I feel like I can play better and make better plays and have the puck more out there, so it’s all a work in progress,” Kane said. “It’s nice to produce, though.”
The Hawks would be nowhere without Kane, but goalie Cam Ward has been almost as important.
Ward has overcome a few rough starts, and he kept the Hawks in this game by stopping the Devils’ last 31 shots. He saved 41 of 43 overall and won for the fifth time in a row.
“Part of goaltending is being able to let it go and get ready for the next shot,” Ward said. “I thought my movement was good, and I was feeling good, so I just continued to battle.”
Ward has a .943 save percentage and 2.20 goals-against average in his last five games, even with the Hawks allowing an average of 38.8 shots.
The Hawks held a pregame ceremony for Chris Kunitz in honor of his 1,000th NHL game and presented him with a silver stick. Colliton also put him in the starting lineup with Toews and Kane.
In 14 seasons, Kunitz has won four Stanley Cups and scored 264 goals. He made an All-Star team and helped Canada win gold at the 2014 Olympics.