CHICAGO — Patrick Kane raced into the offensive zone and let loose with shot that pulled the Blackhawks back from the brink of disaster and pushed them forward with a full head of steam in their first-round NHL playoff series against the Blues.
The winger scored 11 minutes, 17 seconds into overtime to give the Hawks a rollicking 4-3 victory over the Blues in Game 4 Wednesday night at the United Center and even the best-of-seven series at 2 with Game 5 set for Friday night in St. Louis.
“Big difference between 3-1 and 2-2,” Kane said of the series. “Going into overtime, we were all pretty confident that we were going to get another win in front of our home crowd. It was just a matter of time in the overtime because we had a lot of chances.”
Kane converted the biggest chance with a rocket from the left dot that that sailed past Blues goaltender Ryan Miller and sent the crowd of 22,123 into a frenzy.
“Their defenseman pinched so we kind of had a two-on-one ... thing going down the ice,” Kane said. “(Brandon Saad) made a good play driving to the back post and gave me some space to try and get a shot off. I just tried to pull it to the middle and get it by their defenseman, try to use him as a screen and lucky enough it went in.”
It is the latest huge postseason overtime goal for Kane, who ended the 2010 Stanley Cup Final against the Flyers with a score in OT. This one helped erase the bad memories of overtime losses in Games 1 and 2 in St. Louis.
“Any time you score in overtime it’s a great feeling,” Kane said. “It was disappointing ... the first two games when you get to overtime and you’re not able to win it.
“We have the momentum so we’ll try to keep it,” Kane added “We’re going to expect a tough game, especially going into their building. I’m sure it’s going to be rocking. It’s important to come out strong in that game and try to keep the momentum we have.”
Kane finished Game 4 with two goals and an assist while Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell also scored in regulation. Corey Crawford earned the victory in goal for the Hawks with 30 saves while Ryan Miller suffered the loss for the Blues, also stopping 30 shots.
“We knew it was going to be a tough battle but we’re right where we want to be,” Blues forward Maxim Lapierre said. “We won our two games at home, came here and played good hockey. Now we have to focus, regroup and played good in St. Louis again.
“There’s no surprise. You’re playing the Stanley Cup champions. Obviously you’re going to have a tight battle. You’re not just going to take the wins and go home. It’s a tight series and it’s physical.”
Vladimir Tarasenko had two goals and Lapierre also scored for a Blues team that had battled back from a 2-0 deficit in the final two minutes of the second period to take a lead deep into the third before Bickell tied it at 3-3 with 3:52 remaining.
“Momentum goes a long way in this game,” Bickell said. “They took two, we took two (and) now we have the momentum going into their building. But we need to win one there. We have a spark and I think we have a lot better to bring.”
Perhaps as important as the victory itself, the fact that Kane appears to have located his stride and timing after missing the final month of the regular season with a knee injury bodes well for the rest of the series.
“You hope to get better and better as the game goes along,” Kane said “Coming back from missing a month, it kind of takes a little bit to get your timing back. It’s nice being back playing hockey again. I’ll just try to keep getting better and better.”
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