For as long as the Blackhawks' playoff series with the Blues has lasted, fans, analysts and maybe even Patrick Kane himself were wondering when the high-scoring forward was going to show up on the goal sheet.
He showed up at just the right time for the Hawks.
It was Kane who stuffed in his own rebound as the clock stretched past midnight and the Hawks escaped St. Louis with a 4-3 victory in double overtime over the Blues in a triumph that spared their season at least another couple of days.
Game 6 is Saturday at the United Center with the Blues leading the best-of-seven series 3-2. The Hawks will get suspended winger Andrew Shaw back for that game.
Kane's goal, his first of the series and his fifth playoff overtime winner, came with 3 minutes, 7 seconds into the second extra period after he put several chances on Blues goaltender Brian Elliott. One of the chances trickled to Elliott's right as Kane got free to circle around the net to send the loose puck home before the Blues could clear it.
"A huge goal," defenseman Duncan Keith said. "Saved the season."
It saved the season when it was perilously close to ending.
The Hawks blew a two-goal lead in the third period after Jaden Schwartz and David Backes scored to tie the game and the Blues mounted furious flurries in the first overtime at Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford, who finished with 43 saves. But Crawford turned away every shot and at last the Hawks regrouped — led by Kane, who played on a line with captain Jonathan Toews for most of the night.
"Before that overtime I was trying to tell myself to play with confidence and I wasn't very good the first four periods," Kane said. "I had a couple of good shifts there, had a couple of chances. … I was fortunate enough to see it squeak over to the side and try to jam it in."
Kane said the Hawks were feeling pressure Thursday in an elimination game and before the first overtime after they squandered their lead.
"We were obviously frustrated a little bit," Kane said. "It's probably good for us to come in here, have 10-15 minutes to ourselves, regroup and get ready for what's ahead."
Added Keith. "I don't know if that's the way we drew it up. It would have been nice to just hang on to that lead. But 'Kaner' came through."
Coach Joel Quenneville said he thought the team was fine in the dressing room before the overtimes, but it was hard for the Hawks to communicate on the bench. Perhaps that's what led to a too-many-men on the ice penalty late in the third period.
"The building was so loud … a lot of guys couldn't hear the calls," Quenneville said. "That's why I lost my voice a little."
But Quenneville will take losing his voice if it means winning the game. His change to put Kane and Toews together — a move he goes to in desperation mode — paid off in the overtime. For most of the night, they played with Richard Panik, who assisted on Kane's goal.
Marian Hossa also scored his first goal of the series short-handed in the second period. Artemi Panarin scored on a one-timer with 0.4 seconds remaining in the second period while Artem Anisimov also put home a rebound in a three-goal second for the Hawks. They relinquished that 3-1 lead, but Kane was there to rescue them, as he has done several times in the past.
"In the past with our team it seems like it's kind of like the next guy up, it's someone else's turn …" Kane said. "Maybe it was my turn to step up tonight."
That he surely did.
Chris Hine's three stars
1. Patrick Kane, Blackhawks: Winger scored winning goal in second overtime.
2. Corey Crawford, Blackhawks: Made 43 saves, came up big in first overtime.
3. Duncan Keith, Blackhawks: Defenseman logged 42 minutes of ice time.