Veteran Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane just keeps rolling.
After tallying a goal and three assists Tuesday to help lift the Blackhawks to a 6-5 shootout victory over the host Columbus Blue Jackets, Kane has collected seven points in his past two games. That makes 30 points for Kane in 20 games entering Thursday’s rematch at Columbus as the teams close a two-game series.
Kane ultimately earned league MVP honors when he last accomplished that 30-in-20 feat to open the 2015-16 season. Might similar accolades be in the cards in 2021?
“Yeah,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. “Look at what the expectations were for our team and where everyone had us finishing, and yet we’re right there. We’re in the battle. Obviously, he’s a big part of that.
“His production is better than ever, but to me it’s all about his work ethic away from the puck. … That type of team-first mentality, that’s what we’re trying to build here. … Not only is he doing it, but he’s encouraging other guys to do it. I think everyone as a group sees when you do selfless things — when you’re unselfish — it comes around. When he’s driving that, it sure is powerful.”
Chicago’s leader in points (30) and assists (21) and its co-leader with nine goals, Kane appreciates the focus on his production — especially as he sits two goals shy of 400 for his career. Still, he makes clear his top concern is keeping the young Blackhawks in the playoff hunt.
An inability to close Tuesday’s game allowed the Blue Jackets to pick up a point by extending the game to overtime.
“(We) just feel like we’re giving up these leads late in the third, and they’re big points, obviously,” Kane said. “We did it one of the games in Chicago and did it tonight. You’re up 5-3, you want to finish off the game. They just kept coming, had some chances and ended up tying it up. Nice to get two points but would’ve been nice to give them nothing.”
The Blackhawks won for the fourth time in five games as they welcomed defenseman Connor Murphy back to the lineup following a six-game absence with a right hip injury.
The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, have lost four of five.
“Any points is better than no points,” said Cam Atkinson, who had a goal and an assist. “We fought our way to crawl back into it.”
Patrik Laine scored a pair of power-play goals while adding an assist. Laine has six goals in 10 games with the Blue Jackets since joining them from the Winnipeg Jets via trade.
Oliver Bjorkstrand also had two goals, striking twice in the third period for his first tallies since Feb. 4.
“I thought we started making some plays. I thought there was a little bit more flow to our game,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “I’m happy for them to get a point. We need to win some of these games — had some opportunities, one of our better 3-on-3 periods.
“So, there’s a lot of things to point at to try to get better. We have a lot of work to do still, but at least we can point to some things that we took some steps in the right direction and try to do better.”
–Field Level Media