The Chicago Blackhawks continue to gather strength.
It helps having the league leader in points in Patrick Kane, who also took over the league lead in goals from Alex Ovechkin on Friday. It helps having a core led by Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. It helps having Corey Crawford, the league leader in saves (1,036) and shutouts (6), as your goalie, although he didn’t play Friday.
The defending Stanley Cup champions have now won 10 straight games. They also take over top spot in the Central Division, moving ahead of the Dallas Stars with 64 points — at least for the time being. The Stars play the Anaheim Ducks later in the evening Friday.
When this streak began on Dec. 29, the Blackhawks were in a Wild Card spot.
On Friday, the Blackhawks defeated the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs by a final score of 4-1.
Kane had the hat trick, with one of those goals coming on the power play (see below).
He’s now up to 28 goals on the season, which is two short of his previous single-season career best of 30. That’s now two goals ahead of Ovechkin. Kane also had a four-point night, which moves him to 67 points on the season.
Chicago’s rookie forward Artemi Panarin assisted on two of Kane’s goals, and scored his own on a perfect set-up from Kane on a five-on-three power play in the third period.