CHICAGO | The Blackhawks’ best news Wednesday did not come in their regular-season home finale, probably their most stunning comeback of the season in a 3-2 overtime victory over the Montreal Canadiens.
A game-tying goal by Marian Hossa with 48 seconds left in regulation preceded the winner by Patrick Sharp with 43 seconds transpired in overtime to thrill 21,571.
However, the loyalists may not see the Hawks again at the United Center for another 10 days with home-ice advantage in the first-round of the playoffs still a long shot.
After four straight wins, the Hawks now have 107 points, two behind the second-place Colorado Avalanche, who finish the season with three West Coast road games. Meanwhile, the Hawks play two more, at Washington on Friday and Nashville on Saturday.
The most impactful effect on their postseason chances came hours before the lightning strikes by Hossa and Sharp. More progress was made in Patrick Kane’s recovery from a left-knee injury suffered March 19 against St. Louis.
Kane looked good again Wednesday morning after nearly a week’s worth of skating. All indications pointed to his full recovery for the start of the first round of the playoffs the middle of next week.
“I think I will be for sure," Kane said. "From what it looks like, a week away from playoffs, that’s right about the timetable that they told me I should be healed.
"The injury feels pretty good and I’m pretty confident with it, especially being on the ice my fifth time in the past six days. It’s an injury that they said it would probably keep me out the rest of the regular season when it happened, so it looks like it’s staying true to that."
Fellow star Jonathan Toews, being rested the rest of the regular season after an upper-body injury March 30 in Pittsburgh, is also on target for a first-round return.
The stars’ return, expected at 100 percent by coach Joel Quenneville, will further boost a Hawks roster that has turned it around since a late-March road pratfall.
Winger Jeremy Morin, fighting for a postseason roster spot, set up the dramatic comeback with his third goal in the last four games midway through the third period. Morin’s score put the Hawks on the board after the Canadiens’ Dale Weise broke a scoreless tie three minutes previously.
“Every time I’m in the lineup, I’m just trying to make the most out of it,” Morin said. “I’m not thinking about it. Obviously, it would be nice to play in some playoff games. But I’m trying to have fun with it right now.”
Sharp got Hossa going for the last-ditch score with the Hawks sporting an empty net. The winger, whom Quenneville said has “stepped up to the plate” as a leader in the absence of Kane and Toews, put a shot on goal from the right side. Hossa tapped in the rebound for his 29th goal to tie it 2-2.
Then Sharp won it with his 34th goal.
“It’s always nice to tie it up late in the game like that with the extra man,” Sharp said. “All game long we were looking for a better play instead of just putting pucks on net. Toward the end of the game (we) just threw it on there and got a couple of lucky bounces.
“It’s nice to be on the right side of the two points after the tough stretch we had a few weeks ago. We talked the last couple of days just keeping things simple and trying to play well defensively and wait for our chances offensively.”