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Another “crazy carom”? Patrick Kane, Blackhawks get all the luck — again — and earn every bit of it
Patrick Kane got lucky Tuesday night. And it wasn’t the first time.
In fact, Kane’s series-winning goal in overtime against the Minnesota Wild — when the puck almost magically appeared on his stick after Brent Seabrook’s get-off-the-ice dump-in rimmed around the boards and caromed off a stanchion behind the Wild net — wasn’t even close to his biggest stroke of good fortune in a Game 6.
In 2010 at Nashville, Kane scored a tie-breaking goal in the first period of Game 6 when Jonathan Toews won a face-of near center ice and Seabrook’s dump-in immediately caromed off Kane’s skate outside of the blue line and into an open net. Predators’ goaltender Pekka Rinne had vacated the net to corral Seabrook’s dump-in — only to watch helplessly as the Kane deflection slid to his right as he was moving to the left. It happens.
The Canucks felt the Predators’ pain a series later in Game 4 in Vancouver when Duncan Keith dumped a puck into the offensive zone and it rimmed around the boards and deflected off Ryan Kesler’s skate near the right face-off circle — right into the slot in front of the net, where Toews just happened to be there to tap in a tie-breaking goal. Like Kane, Keith also outdid his own good fortune this season when his clearing attempt in overtime in Game 5 against the Blues deflected off Andrew Shaw and right to Toews at center ice for a breakaway and game-winning goal. “Just a lucky break,” Keith said.
Like the Predators and Canucks in 2010 and the Blues in the opening series, the Wild on Tuesday night could only lament being ultimately victimized by the Blackhawks’ good fortune. Kris Versteeg, scoreless in the postseason and a healthy scratch earlier in the series, scored the Hawks’ first goal from an angle even deeper than Kane’s Cup-winner against the Flyers in 2010. He was actually behind the goal line when he shot the puck off Ilya Bryzgalov and into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Over six seasons now, the Hawks’ incredible run of huge breaks has to be more than good fortune. What Hawks and NBC analyst Eddie Olczyk said about Toews goes for the Hawks in general: “It’s not luck when it happens over and over and over again.”
There has to be something to that. The Blackhawks have played 15 consecutive playoff games that have been within one goal or tied in the third period — and they’ve won 11 of them, including four in overtime. In 20 of their 24 playoff victories over the past two seasons they’ve led by a goal or less in the third period. They were tied or losing in the third period in 15 of them.
Tuesday night’s game was a perfect example of what the Hawks are all about: Outplayed most of the night, they got a timely dominating performance in goal from Corey Crawford — who for the record never has been higher than eighth in Vezina Trophy voting in his five-year career as an NHL starter — and stayed alive long enough to get the break they needed.
How do they do it?
“It’s clearly a great group of guys,” Toews said. “We want to play for each other. We want to win. That’s all that matters really. It’s a lot of fun when we work as hard as we can. We faced a little bit of adversity and I think it means so much more when you succeed and you come out of those situations. It’s exciting. It’s a good feeling right now. We have to keep that feeling going.”