It figured that Patrick Kane would be asked about his championship-winning goal, particularly on a night like this.
The star right wing scored twice to lift the Chicago Blackhawks to a 3-1 victory over the Boston Bruins and a 3-2 lead in the Stanley Cup finals on Saturday night. Now, they’re one win away from their second championship in four years, and who can forget the clincher in 2010?
There was Kane firing a shot from a sharp angle past Philadelphia’s Michael Leighton for a 4-3 overtime victory in Game 6 and immediately breaking into a celebration. Teammates and coaches didn’t realize at first the puck went in the net. Then, reality hit. The Blackhawks were champs and their 49-year title drought was over.
”I just remember we were up 3-2, they scored a late goal, and then I had a couple more chances,” Kane said. ”We got ourselves to overtime and I think it was five minutes in that I just kind of threw it on net, got a lucky break, and I think the biggest thing most people remember is that you didn’t know whether it was in the net or not. It was a great moment. I think it’s exciting to be back in that situation again. This is what you work for all year, all summer, when you’re training throughout the year at training camp, whatever it may be. This is what you work for, this opportunity. We’ve got to seize the moment and take advantage of it.
TAKING OUT TOEWS: Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk insisted his hit on Jonathan Toews was clean and he doesn’t expect to hear from the league.
Boychuck leveled Toews with a hit to the head late in the second period the Blackhawks’ captain cut to the slot with a nice move, drawing three Boston defenders. The Blackhawks’ captain sat out the third with an upper body injury.
”I came across and read it and hit him,” Boychuk said. ”I tried to hit him clean and I thought it was. I don’t know how he fell, awkwardly or how he fell. I’m going to try and play physical and he’s going to drive the net like he’s supposed to and I’m going to hit.”
BIG DEFENSE: At 6-foot-9 and 255 pounds, Zdeno Chara can probably take care of himself. That didn’t stop the Bruins from defending their defenseman again on Saturday.
The Blackhawks went right at him in Game 4 and made it clear they believed they found the right formula to deal with him in that 6-5 overtime win. Toews even said they showed ”a little bit too much respect” by trying to avoid him earlier in the series, and Bryan Bickell even said Chara doesn’t like getting hit.
”A lot of people have tried to figure out Zdeno,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. ”People talk about five goals against. Were they all his fault? None of them were his fault, actually. We feel he’s one of our best players on the team. He’s one of the best defensive players in the league. I don’t think there are too many flaws in his game, but if they want to think that way, they’re entitled to it.”
Chara was on the ice for all but one of the Chicago’s goals and was a minus-3 in Game 4, tying a season worst.
”I think Z likes those situations where he’s under pressure, where the guys go at him, playing physically. It doesn’t matter what they do,” Boston’s Dennis Seidenberg said. ”Whatever they think their game plan is, we have to respond to it and try to figure it out.”
On Saturday, he was a minus-2 for the game. Chara did score the lone goal for Boston but was on the ice for both of Kane’s, not to mention Dave Bolland’s empty-netter at the end.
”There’s certainly respect there, no question we respect Chara and the way that he plays the game and the quality of player that he is,” Chicago’s Patrick Sharp said afterward. ”But we’ve got some good players on our team, too. At the end of the day, that’s how things are going to be settled.”
TOO MUCH REST: There were two off days between Games 1 and 2 and Games 4 and 5 of the Stanley Cup finals, giving the Blackhawks and Bruins extra time to rest.
Bolland is not a big fan of the extra day between games.
”The extra day is a little bit of a pain,” he said. ”You wait around. You wait for the next game. You start to get a little sluggish, just hanging around.
”But you do get to think about more of what happened in that game when you do have that extra day. So I think for myself I like having them back to back or every second day is always fun.”
HOSSA UPDATE: Marian Hossa skipped the Blackhawks’ morning skate after missing practice the previous day, but was in the lineup. Hossa was a late scratch from Game 3 because of an upper body injury and had an assist in Game 4.