CHICAGO – There aren’t too many titles left for Patrick Kane to claim.
At 26, he has already been a No. 1 overall draft pick, Rookie of the Year, two-time Stanley Cup champion and Conn Smythe Trophy winner. He was a likely Hart Trophy candidate this season before injuring his shoulder in late February.
With a Hall of Fame-worthy career in only its eighth season, the Blackhawks star winger will mostly be noted for his numbers going forward. As Chicago closed out a 4-1 victory over the Wild for a 2-0 series lead in their Western Conference semifinal, Kane reached a magnificent one, notching his 100th career playoff point on a breakaway late in the second period. He later added an empty-net goal for his 101st point.
That’s 101 points in 101 playoff games.
“You hear so much about playoff hockey when you come into the league,” Kane said. “It’s the best hockey to play. I’ve been fortunate enough to play with some great teammates where you’re getting a lot of good chances.”
Kane reached the century mark with 20 seconds left in the second period. After catching a stretch pass from defenseman Duncan Keith at the Wild blue line, Kane broke in all alone, made a quick move and fired a wrist shot over the right shoulder of Devan Dubnyk for a 2-0 lead.
It ended up being Kane’s eighth career game-winner in the playoffs, putting him in the top 10 among active players.
It was also Kane’s fifth consecutive playoff game with at least one point, a stretch that has seen him record four goals and three assists. His 10 points this postseason (five goals, five assists) tie him for the Chicago team lead with Keith (two goals, eight assists).
After missing the final 21 games of the regular season because of a broken collarbone, Kane hardly showed any rust when he returned for Game 1 of the playoffs against the Nashville Predators.
It’s what has become of expected of him when the weather gets warmer. When the playoffs arrive, so too does Kane’s greatness. And the Wild knows it all too well.
Last postseason, Kane registered three goals and an assist in the series against the Wild, famously shouting “showtime” after scoring the Game 1 winner. In the first round in 2013, he had five points, all on assists, against the Wild.
This is what Kane does, and what Chicago has come to demand from him. When he tallied 64 points through 61 games this season before his injury, it looked like he had found a way to bring his postseason intensity to an 82-game schedule.
“No drop off from the regular season,” Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp said. “If anything, he steps it up. You have to have guys who want to elevate their game at this time of year, be the guy to score that big goal, and we have that in our locker room.”
Which is why a quick move to put the puck past Dubnyk is hardly makes his teammates’ heads turn. When a point-per-playoff-game player continues to raise his own standards, they just shrug and wait to see what he does next.
“Another big goal for us late in a period,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “Great play by [Keith], great finish by Kaner, put us in a good spot.”