Chicago Sun-Times


With seven goals in last four games, Kane showing league he still can play at high level


DALLAS — A switch has flipped inside Patrick Kane.

And whether it was flipped or not by recent rumblings that other NHL teams considered him damaged goods and doubted his abilities, Kane looks like a man on a mission.

As the trade winds blow harder and harder, he seemingly plays better and better. His dual effort with Max Domi on Wednesday against the Stars, putting the Blackhawks on their backs and powering an epic comeback from a 3-0 deficit to a 4-3 win, marked the latest peak.

“All of a sudden, you get going and you start feeling good, you start feeling confident,” Kane said. “I was the beneficiar­y of a few plays tonight — and even the last couple games, too — so things are just clicking.”

Kane has seven goals in his last four games — tied for the best four-game span in his career — after just nine in his first 50 games this season.

His 10 total points in this stretch also represent the third-best streak of his career.

“When Kaner is feeling it and he’s burying the puck like that, it’s fun to watch, fun to play with,” Domi said. “It just puts energy into our group, and everyone really feeds off that.”

Even beyond the stats, all the signature Kane traits that were perhaps less noticeable earlier this season have returned with glaring force. Domi called Kane a “superstar” on Wednesday, and rightly so.

He no longer appears slowed by his much-discussed nagging injury; that debate can be thrown out the window. Kane said himself that this is “for sure” the best he has played this season.

He’s passing with pinpoint accuracy. His shot looks more powerful than it has in years — and the evidence lies not only in his overturned overtime slap shot Tuesday against the Golden Knights, but also in his first of three goals Sunday against the Maple Leafs, when he ripped an innocent low-danger shot into the top corner.

His vision and instincts to find open spaces in the offensive zone — or help lead his teammates there, or make subtle hand movements to create space even in traffic — have been sharp. And his swagger has returned.

Of course, these are the same skills that have made Kane one of the NHL’s elite playmakers for 16 years. But the rest of the league might have needed a reminder, and Kane has given it to them.

“The guys have been really good about not necessaril­y talking about the [trade] subject, just focusing on hockey,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys in here that are probably going through the same thing, so we’re all kind of in the same boat. So [it’s] nice to be around everyone, and [it’s] even nicer when you’re winning games and the group is having fun.”

The Stars and Knights — coincident­ally the last two opponents to feel Kane’s wrath — along with the Rangers (again), Hurricanes and Oilers are all circling, even though Kane insisted again Wednesday he still hasn’t decided if he’s willing to move.

But if this is indeed his last Hawks hurrah, he’s going out in style.

 ?? AP ?? Patrick Kane, who had two goals in the Blackhawks’ comeback win over the Stars on Wednesday, no longer appears slowed by a nagging injury.
AP Patrick Kane, who had two goals in the Blackhawks’ comeback win over the Stars on Wednesday, no longer appears slowed by a nagging injury.
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