Big-game Patrick Kane confident he can find a way to make an impact

SHARE Big-game Patrick Kane confident he can find a way to make an impact

Shadowed often by 6-7 Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane has struggled in the Stanley Cup Final. After scoring 20 points in the Hawks’ first 17 playoff games, Kane has one point in five games against the Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

This is a moment made for Patrick Kane — even a slumping Patrick Kane.

Though Kane has yet to score in five games of the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning, he’s always a threat. And maybe never more so than with the Stanley Cup on the line.

Kane famously scored the game-winning goal in overtime of Game 6 of the Final against the Flyers that clinched the Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup championship and ended a 49-year Cup drought.

With a one-on-one move from the left faceoff circle, Kane got a step on defenseman Kimmo Timonen and fired an extreme-angle shot that somehow slid past Michael Leighton and into the net. Only Kane and a few teammates immediately knew he actually had scored.

“It’s amazing it’s been five years,” Kane said Monday after the Hawks’ morning skate prior to Game 6 at the United Center. “It seems like yesterday we were at that building with the opportunity to close it out in Game 6.

“The last five minutes of so [the Flyers] had a bunch of chances, but we got to overtime and kind of regrouped. We had a few chances and I ended up getting a lucky goal.

“It’s a great moment, something that will stand out in a lot of our careers for along time —especially mine with what happened. Something I’ll never forget. Nothing will ever take that moment and that day away.”

But Kane’s reputation as a big-game performer is built on much more than one memorable moment. Kane had a goal and assist in the Game 6 clincher against Nashville. In Game 3 against the Wild at Xcel Energy Center in the second round, Kane scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory, then had a goal and assist in the Game 4 victory that completed the sweep. And Kane helped pull the Hawks out of a 3-2 deficit against the Ducks in the Western Conference final —he had a goal and assist in Game 6 and three assists in Game 7.

In fact, in nine games in which the Hawks either faced elimination or had a chance to clinch a series (or both) in the past two postseasons, Kane has scored 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) and is a plus-10. He’s scored at least one point in each of those games.

Kane faced a difficult challenge to maintain that success in Game 6 against the Lightning. He had no goals and one point with a minus-1 rating in the first five games. He did not even register a shot on goal in Game 2.

The 5-11 Kane has struggled particularly against 6-7 Lightning defenseman extraordinaire Victor Hedman — big No. 77 — whose long reach and active stick have made it difficult for Kane to carry the puck for very long.

“He’s a special player,” Kane said. “Not only is he big, has a good stick, he’s smart, he’s a great skater, he seems to have all the tools to lock someone down. He’s definitely been impressive throughout the series.”

Kane and the Hawks have faced this kind of double-digited nemesis before. In 2010, it was the Flyers’ 6-6, 220-pound Chris Pronger. In 2013 it was the Bruins’ 6-9 Zdeno Chara. Both times, Kane found a way to make an impact. Against the Flyers, Kane scored five points (two goals, three assists) in Games 5 and 6. Against the Bruins, Kane scored three points (two goals, one assist) in Games 4 and 5 to help turn a 2-1 series deficit into a 3-2 series lead.

Kane is aware of what he’s up against, but doesn’t want to over-think it.

“When you’re on the ice, you gotta be aware who’s out there, especially for defensive purposes,” Kane said. “But sometimes when you think too much about playing against one certain guy, it can backfire on you a little bit. So we’re just worried about playing our game, not worried about what [Hedman’s] going to do out there too much.”

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville didn’t seem to concerned about Hedman’s hold on Kane. The way he looks at it, every second Hedman spends on shackling Kane, it’s one less second he can hound somebody else —and the Hawks have enough fire-power to take advantage. That’s why Kane and Jonathan Toews are on separate lines for the most part since Hedman established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the Final. Hedman can’t guard everybody.

“We say you still have to absorb that assignment that is definitely consuming for the opponent,” Quenneville said. “I think that’s one of the reasons why [Kane and Jonathan Toews are] not out there [together] a lot.

“But we’ll see how it plays out. Kaner eventually he’ll find a way. That’s what makes him the competitor he is.”

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