Kane defines Lucky Puck with winner


CHICAGO -- With the numbers on his side and no time to lose, Patrick Kane took off down the ice. A man with a mission.

Kane with the puck and room to breathe is a great sight to behold, like a Chicago highway with no traffic.

Kane has experience making moments come to him. He's a bright-lights, big-city, big-stage kind of guy.

So with nearly 12 minutes into overtime and the city of Chicago exhaling one shift at a time as the clock crept toward midnight, Kane got his chance for another sudden-death winner for the Blackhawks.

Skating down the left side, Kane, with one goal already in his pocket, knew they had the numbers. He slowed, surveyed the situation and fired a shot through Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk's legs and past goaltender Ryan Miller for a 4-3 victory to tie the first-round series at 2-all going back to St. Louis.

While the NBA has Hero Ball, the NHL has Lucky Puck. Hero Ball is all confidence. Lucky Puck is preparation meeting opportunity.

"You kind of get the puck in the defensive-zone blue line; I think you're looking for all your options, just see what they give you," Kane said. "They were back-checking hard, so I just tried to get a shot off, and it went in."

A TV reporter joked with Kane after the game, asking, in deadpan fashion, if this was his first overtime playoff winner.

"Ah, I'm going to have to check that," he said. "I think I have a couple."

Three in fact, tying him with Jeremy Roenick for the franchise record.

While this goal didn't quite match that overtime winner that won the Stanley Cup back in 2010, Kane's post-goal celebration didn't quite match that glove-throwing reverie, either. But it was close. No one skates like Kane, and no one celebrates like Kane.

"It's pretty entertaining," Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford said. "It's as if the goal isn't entertaining enough, his celebrations are pretty good after that. He gets us fired up after he scores, and I think the crowd gets into it."

What did Kane see on the play?

"Their defenseman pinched, so we kind of had a 2-on-1, 3-on-3 kind of thing going down the ice," he said. "Saader [ Brandon Saad] made a good play driving to the back post and gave me some space to try and get a shot off. I just tried to pull it to the middle, get it by the defenseman, use him as a screen.

"Lucky enough it went in."

Kane had previously scored to give the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead late in the second period by flying to the net and tapping in a perfect chance.

"Sharpie [ Patrick Sharp] made a great drive to the middle of the net and took the defenseman away," Kane said. "The puck just found me backdoor. All I had to do was shoot it in."

He makes it sound so easy. For some people, it is.

The return of Kane and Jonathan Toews from their regular-season injuries was the major storyline headed into the playoffs, and both have come through to turn this series around. Coach Joel Quenneville started them together on a line with Bryan Bickell again for the second straight game, but split them up during it.

Bickell, playing with Toews and Marian Hossa, scored the tying and possibly season-saving goal with less than four minutes left in regulation. Kane was paired with Ben Smith and Saad. The line changes worked. Again.

"That's why Joel is one of the best coaches in the world," Kane said.

Kane sat calmly in the postgame locker room, the team's wrestling belt to his left, like he just scored a winner in mid-December.

Don't worry, he's still Kane, the face of the Blackhawks' collective confidence. After two brutal overtime losses in St. Louis, the Blackhawks have the edge now.

They've done this before, of course, with the core of the team having their names on two Stanley Cups. Last season, they came back from a 3-1 deficit to Detroit. Two goals in 17 seconds won them the Cup.

A 3-1 deficit going into St. Louis wouldn't have been ideal. Now, it's a new series.

"We have the momentum and we'll try to keep it," Kane said. "We're going to expect a tough game, especially going into their building. I'm sure it's going to be rocking. It's important to come out strong in that game and try to keep the momentum we have. Because we took it to them the last 20 minutes of this game."

That's wishful thinking. But when Kane puts his mind to something, watch out.

"You don't think you're going to see any better from him," Crawford said, "and he keeps doing it again."