There is no more dramatic Blackhawk than Patrick Kane. There was no better player in Game 6, however, than Corey Crawford.
Patrick Kane went forehand. Then backhand. Then top shelf.
Hello, Western Conference final.
Kane launched the Blackhawks into their fourth conference final in the last six seasons with a sweet and completely expected overtime game-winner.
Sweet because he followed a fluky bounce off a stanchion and deked Minnesota goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and the annoying and sometimes scary Wild into next season.
Completely expected because that's what Kane does in these kinds of moments. In seven potential clinching Game 6s since 2009, Kane now has 11 goals, three of them game-winners, meaning he has ended almost half of the matches with some kind of sudden brilliance.
You know those numbers I cited earlier about Kane's clutch histrionics? Well, Crawford has some of his own, such as a convincing 6-1 record and gaudy .950 save percentage in potential clinching games.
The Hawks needed every bit of their goaltender in Game 6 because they had nothing that looked like a puck possession game.
The Hawks could not make a pass, and if they did, they couldn't catch it, and if they did, they couldn't do anything with it. This was some lame hockey. It was bad enough to get them beat and force a Game 7, except for Crawford.
This has now become a disturbing road trend. The first two games in St. Louis and all three in Minnesota smacked of bad, sloppy and/or uneven play, you pick it.
The Hawks have won just two of their six road games this postseason, and while they were the two games that ended the home season for their opponents, the Hawks have to be better than that. They have to dictate the pace and terms of play, and they have to be smarter on the road.
The first two games in St. Louis were all kinds of stupid, starting with Brent Seabrook's suspendable hit on David Backes. Expecting a brutal series, the Hawks wanted to be the ones who lashed out first. Took them a week to wise up. Took them a week to remember that wasn't their game.
The first two games in Minnesota were a pile of stubbornness against whatever version of the trap the Wild were playing. The Hawks believed they could stickhandle through anything, even 1-on-5, but no, they couldn't, and here come the Wild on yet another rush. Finally, the Hawks played a dump-and-chase game that loosened up the disciplined Wild in a Game 5 win. In Game 6, the Hawks had the better goalie and the luckier moment.
They will take all of it, of course. They will take whatever invitation there is when it comes to the conference final. But they need to play better on the road -- smarter -- especially when they're in the unusual position of perhaps not having home-ice advantage in either of the next two rounds.