Time and time again, the Chicago Blackhawks have needed a hero. And time and time again, that man has been Patrick Kane.
Kane kept true to that narrative on Wednesday night in a 4-3 win for the ‘Hawks over the Anaheim Ducks, scoring a goal with 17 seconds left on the clock in the third period to break a 3-3 tie on NBCSN.
Fittingly, the goal was Kane’s 40th of the season, marking the second time in his NHL career that he’s hit that plateau.
And what a stunner (and heartbreaker for Anaheim) it was.
Jonathan Toews picked up a loose puck in the Chicago zone with roughly 21 seconds left. His outlet pass found Brandon Saad streaking through the neutral zone. Saad, gunning it down the left side, undressed Hampus Lindholm on a nasty toe drag at the Anaheim blue line, slid the pick over to Kane on the ensuing two-on-one and Kane did the rest, sniping a shot past Ryan Miller to win it.
The two points were massive for the Blackhawks, who are now five points back of the final wildcard in the Western Conference. And Chicago looked like they were heading to their third straight loss down 3-2 with just under five minutes left.
Alex DeBrincat scored his second of the game to tie the game up, a goal that seemed to renew Chicago’s energy.
The two teams played to a scoreless first period. It was the second frame where the floodgates burst.
The Blackhawks were given a prime opportunity to blow the game open, too, early in the second when Rickard Rakell drilled Drake Caggiula from behind, resulting in a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the former.
The Blackhawks would score, with DeBrincat getting his first of the game. But the goal was washed out by Devin Shore‘s shorthanded marker not long after.
Artem Anisimov returned the favor, sniping a shorthanded goal of his own before Carter Rowney tied it for the Ducks.
The tie lasted until the third when Troy Terry gave the Ducks their first lead of the game off a bad turnover.
Corey Crawford returned after missing 28 games with a concussion and stopped 29 shots. He didn’t look great on Rowney’s goal, but outside of that, Crawford looked every bit the part of the goalie that was the talk of the league in recent times.
Crawford’s performance (and health) is going to be key down the stretch drive here if the Blackhawks are going to slide in the back door of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Getting his first action in over two months was the first step, and Crawford passed the test.
Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck