CHICAGO |When all else fails, let Patrick Kane win it for you.
The Blackhawks’ glamour boy is no doubt fully recovered from a late-season knee injury. Even while playing with a brace on his left knee, his legs were just fine as he scooted down the ice to power the game-winning goal in overtime past St. Louis Blues goalie Ryan Miller for the 4-3 overtime victory Wednesday.
Kane’s second goal of the game tied the Western Conference quarterfinals 2-2. The victory assured the Hawks will return to the United Center on Sunday afternoon for Game 6. And the game-winner – only the fourth time the Hawks have won in the last 17 games going past regulation – restored confidence after the Hawks had coughed up a 2-0 lead late in the second period.
“Big difference between 3-1 and 2-2,” Kane said. “Going into overtime, we were all pretty confident we were going to get another win in front of our home crowd.”
Moments earlier, Kane had hit the crossbar. Miller also stopped Ben Smith at close range as the Hawks finally beat the Blues in overtime after two heartbreaking losses in Games 1 and 2.
In a series where goals and legitimate scoring chances were not all that plentiful, the Hawks thought they had taken control by the latter part of the second period. But the Blues tied it up 2-2 in a one-minute, five-second span.
“It was tough to give up two goals at the end of the second period,” Kane said.
After going just 1-for-15 on the power play in the series, the Hawks finally connected again with 8:40 left in the second.
Amid a scramble by Miller, Andrew Shaw took advantage of his usual encampment in the crease for the game’s first score.
Then, an on-charging Kane, coming through the right circle, took a cross-ice pass from defenseman Johnny Oduya and deftly powered it over Miller’s left pad for a 2-0 lead at 16:09 of the second period.
But as Kane taketh, he also gaveth. Just more than 2 1/2 minutes later, Kane was assessed a delay-of-game penalty.
“I took a dumb penalty, chipping it over the glass,” he said. “That hurt a little bit.”
Within seven seconds, Vladimir Tarasenko slithered a shot through a screened Corey Crawford to give the Blues their first score at the United Center in almost five periods.
The Hawks flirted with trouble in the second. Kane’s infraction was one of four penalties the hosts took in the 20-minute frame.
The Tarasenko score seemed to awaken the Blues from their Windy City scoring drought. Their later-game pace and aggressiveness picked up just like in Game 3.
The lines had barely changed when Maxim Lapierre shot one off Crawford’s glove just four seconds prior to the end of the second. The puck bounced off and then trickled behind Crawford into the goal for the 2-2 tie.
“It’s something we probably have to get better at, giving up late goals (in a period),” Kane said. “We got to clamp down in that area.”
Tarasenko then put the Blues ahead 3-2 with a hard shot from the top of the right circle that blasted between Hawks goalie Corey Crawford’s legs for his second goal of the night at 12:27 of the third period.
But just when it appeared the Hawks were deflated after the trio of unanswered Blues scores, Bryan Bickell re-directed a Michal Rozsival shot past Miller to tie it at 16:08.