ANAHEIM, Calif. — January hasn’t always been kind to Patrick Kane. Occasional dreams of scoring titles and MVPs have faded in the dead of winter, sandwiched between phenomenal falls and stellar springs. In fact, in the last four seasons, Kane has just nine January goals.
Well, Kane might not want to turn the page on the calendar this year.
Kane continued his torrid pace with two goals and an assist as the Blackhawks trounced the league-leading Anaheim Ducks 4-1 on Friday night, their second win at the Honda Center in as many tries this season. The Ducks have lost two in a row just twice all season — both came against the Sharks, then the Hawks.
Meanwhile, Patrick Sharp is starting his own hot streak. He was a force all game, and assisted on all four goals (he has a goal and eight assists in his last five games) for his third career four-helper night. Before the game, he bigfooted Ben Smith and took over his favorite locker stall at Honda Center, the one he was in when he scored his first goal with the Hawks. He has nine goals and 10 assists in 15 career games in Anaheim with the Hawks.
Kane said Sharp was the “best player on the ice.”
“Hockey’s a funny game,” Sharp said. “Sometimes you get good feelings in certain buildings and sometimes you’ve got to fight through some bad ones in certain buildings, as well. This is one we enjoy playing in, and I certainly do, too.
“Sometimes you have good feelings sitting in certain spots. This is where I scored my first goal as a Blackhawk. I know it sounds stupid, but when you take that on the ice with you, that little bit of confidence maybe goes a long way.”
Kane has plenty of confidence these days. With a game Saturday night in San Jose still to come, Kane has seven goals and nine assists this January. Though this season, the month doesn’t seem to matter. Dating back to Nov. 14, he has a a whopping 21 goals and 26 assists in 33 games, a blistering 115-point pace over 82 games. With 56 points through 49 games, he’s within two of Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek for the league lead.
Joel Quenneville said this is the best he’s ever seen Kane play.
“I don’t know, I feel like I’ve had some good stretches over my career,” Kane said. “Last year, November and December were really good. But I’m trying not to think about that, trying not to think about what month it is or [what] kind of stretch you’re on. Obviously, it helps when the team’s winning. Just try and go in with a clear mindset every night.”
The talk leading up to the game was the Hawks’ inability to escape with points in tight games. Four times this month, they’ve been tied at some point in the third period, only to come away with zero points. In fact, the Hawks are now 17-0-0 when leading after two, but just 11-8-1 when tied after two, including recent losses to the Kings, Stars and Jets.
“Traditionally, we find a way to get a point, and then hopefully get the second one in overtime,” Quenneville said. “You want to be confident, you want be out there, you want to see yourself doing the right things. I think as a team we want to be in that position when we play the last 5-10 minutes of a tight game.”
On Friday, they found an easier solution — win in a blowout. Jonathan Toews got things started at 5:30 of the first after a Ryan Kesler turnover led to a quick succession of touch passes from Duncan Keith to Sharp to Kane to Toews. Keith scored from the blue line midway through the second period of another nice play from Sharp. And Kane took a drop pass from Sharp and fired a rocket over Frederik Anderson’s right shoulder at 15:23 of the second to make it 3-0.
Rickard Rakell scored on a power play midway through the third period to make things interesting, but another Kane-from-Sharp goal sealed the victory for the Hawks.
“That line had a big night for us,” Quenneville said of Sharp-Brad Richards-Kane. “It was fun watching that line go.”
The big win over the league’s top team was the ideal way to put Wednesday’s tough loss to the Kings behind them. There’s just something about Anaheim that suits the Hawks.
“I thought everyone played really good tonight,” Kane said “[Keith] was unreal on the back end, [Corey Crawford] had a great game in net. I don’t know what it is about this building this year, but it seems like we’ve had two — I don’t want to say perfect games — but probably the perfect road games.”