CHICAGO — After scoring was a team-leading 23 goals in his first 41 games, Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane went into hockey’s version of the Polar Vortex not having scored in his last nine games.
But Kane’s hockey stick and his goal-scoring swing finally thawed Sunday, sinking the winning goal in a shootout as the Blackhawks defeated the Boston Bruins 3-2 at the United Center.
Kane ended a drought that dated back to Dec. 28.
“We weren’t going as well as we wanted to but this game and Friday night’s game against the Ducks (4-2 Chicago win) were big games for us to get our confidence back up and know that we can play with the best in the league,” Kane said.
Kane’s goal was the deciding tally after teammate and center Jonathan Toews and Bruins left wing Brad Marchand scored before him in their own shootout attempts. Boston centers Ryan Spooner and Patrice Bergeron missed their shootout tries, as did Chicago forward Patrick Sharp.
“When you look at his numbers coming into the season, he’s got a pretty high efficiency record,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said of Kane. “This year, it’s been an odd number. We keep sticking with him, and the due factor is part of it. He made a nice shot, great move and getting a win in that fashion is going to help us going forward, knowing we were a little gun shy be it in overtime or the shootout.”
It was Chicago’s first win in either overtime or the shootout since Nov. 29 at the Dallas Stars. Since then, the Blackhawks lost their last seven extra-period contests, and are still 5-11 in shootout or overtime games this season.
It was the teams’ first meeting since last season’s Stanley Cup finals.
“It definitely had a playoff flavor to the game,” Quenneville said. “The intensity that was involved in our playoff series, which was as good a pace as I’ve ever seen in a series, and for a regular season game, you could see both teams had something at stake and wanted to prove they could win the hockey game.”
Even in defeat, Bruins coach Claude Julien agreed.
“It was a great game,” Julien said. “I thought it was a real good test, as far as our team is concerned. With the way we’ve played lately, we’ve gotten better and tonight was another step in the right direction so we just have to continue playing that way. Again, real happy with the effort.”
After losing six of its last 10, Chicago (32-8-11) has won its last two and three of its last four. Boston, meanwhile, fell to 30-15-3 for the season and is 6-1-3 in its last 10 meetings vs. the Blackhawks.
The win lifted Quenneville into a tie for third place on the NHL all-time coaching wins list with Dick Irvin (692). Quernneville is the only active coach in the NHL with two Stanley Cup championships (2010 and 2013, both with the Blackhawks).
It was also the first win for the Blackhawks at home against the Bruins since a 5-4 shootout triumph on Dec. 18, 2009.
Chicago lit the scoring lamp first at 4:13 of the first period on forward Marian Hossa’s 20th goal of the season. Sharp honed in on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, but at the last second, passed through the crease to the waiting Hossa, who casually slipped it past the outstretched Rask for the score.
Just when it looked like the Blackhawks would escape the first period with a 1-0 lead, Marchand had other ideas with 19 seconds remaining. Marchand scored his 13th goal of the season, lifting a 15-foot slapshot over the shoulder of Chicago goalie Corey Crawford and into the upper right corner of the net.
Marchand picked up in the second period where he left off in the first, scoring just 50 seconds into the middle frame to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.
“They’re obviously one of the best teams in the league and anytime you play against a team like that you want to see how you can do,” Marchand said. “I think we have to be happy with how we played. Like I said, they’re one of the best teams and they’re right up there in the standings, so we did a good job.”
Chicago left wing Brandon Bollig scored what may have been the toughest goal of the season yet, shooting from the far end of the goal line, and watched as the puck bounced off the left goal post and Rask’s left pad to slither into the net at 9:44 of the second period.
Neither team scored in the third period, sending the contest into overtime.
Boston had 35 shots in regulation time, while Chicago had 34 shots.