Struggling through the first four games of the Western Conference
final, Patrick Kane needed a bump, and Chicago coach Joel Quenneville gave
it to him by playing him with youngsters Andrew Shaw
and Brandon Saad.
In a series chock-full of big names, it was a couple of young role players that came to the aid of one star.
In a shockingly wide-open game, Kane led the charge with four assists, vaulting him into fifth place in playoff scoring with six goals and 15 points in 17 games.
"He's a special player," said Quenneville. "They have been tight on him, they've got a tight trap. It's tough to get through the neutral zone with puck possession.
"I thought he had some great looks, beat the rusher off his zone. He anticipates as good as any player and his patience level with the puck is as good as anyone."
Kane said a key for his line's success in Game 5 was puck management.
"I thought our biggest thing going into the game was trying to get the puck back [and] create turnovers in their end," Kane said. "We saw that a couple of times, especially on Saad's goal. Personally, I thought Saad was the best player on the ice. He was bringing so much speed and puck protection. He was awesome."
It is not the first time the trio has hooked up. They have had success in the past, and the two kids -- Saad is 21 and Shaw 22 -- looked quite comfortable playing together again. Saad chipped in a goal and two assists while Shaw had two helpers.
"It was a fun game playing with them," Kane said. "They're both extremely hard workers. I think my [linemates] made me look good out there, to be honest with you."
Hats off to Handzus
Michal Handzus said after the game he has not had a great playoff. That is an accurate assessment. However, he is a skilled veteran who came through at crunch time with the goal in the second overtime period.
It was just his second goal and third point in the post-season.
"He's a warrior," Kane said. "He comes to play every night and does whatever he can to be in the lineup whether he's injured or not. We saw that last year with the amount of injuries he had, how he brought something every night. He had some huge goals in last year's playoffs."
Handzus had three goals and 11 points in 23 playoff games, helping the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 2013.
"Yeah, I want to help the team as much as I can," Handzus said. "Obviously I play on the [penalty kill] a lot. I didn't play very well offensively."
Even when Handzus is not scoring, Quenneville believes he contributes to the Blackhawks' success.
"He's a smart player," Quenneville said. "Penalty-killing is his strength. "
Man of few words
Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter doesn't talk much, particularly after a loss.
Sutter was asked if Wednesday's defeat was more difficult because his team was a goal away from advancing to the Stanley Cup final.
"Not really," he said. "It's a tough building. Damn near got it."
Sutter was then asked when he'd last seen an overtime that had as much pace as Wednesday's.
"Well, probably every one we've had," Sutter said. "How many have we played this year? Two good teams. Not going to slow down in overtime."
Mike BrophyMike Brophy brings a wealth of hockey writing and broadcasting experience to CBC Sports, having covered junior hockey for 14 years before joining The Hockey News as its senior writer for 17 years starting in 1992. Most recently, the Burlington, Ont., native worked as a writer/commentator at Rogers Sportsnet and as co-host of The Power Play on SiriusXM. Mike has written four books, including My First Goal, featuring 50 players describing their first NHL goals.
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