CHICAGO -- They were on opposite sides of the Chicago Blackhawks dressing room but both were talking about the same thing.
Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane hadn’t felt the joy of scoring lately or much at all this season but both broke out with goals in the Hawks 3-1 victory over the Florida Panthers Friday night. Kane, in particular, was feeling the pressure to score.
“Any time you can score after a slump and a lot of focus on it, it’s a good feeling,” Kane said afterwards.
His wrist shot during a 2-on-1 sequence with Viktor Stalberg in the second period got by Jose Theodore as a huge monkey fell off Kane’s back. The funny thing is Kane had only gone seven games without a goal, but with only 10 on the season coming in, it felt a lot longer since his last one.
“It’s always more fun to play when you’re scoring,” Jonathan Toews said as he also tallied, his 27th. “As line-mates we’ve been in each other’s ears as far as focusing on our work ethic. That willingness to do those little things. We’re going to get those scoring chances. It’s going to come. Kane is working harder and harder. You saw that tonight. It finally went in for him. A sigh of relief for him I’m sure.”
Kane, Toews and Stalberg have been dynamic, as a line, over the last few games and though Kane hadn’t been scoring he was doing plenty of other things to help his team. His picture perfect pass to set-up Toews for his goal was just one of many he’s produced lately. On Friday he also had four takeaways and five total shots on goal. Both led the Hawks.
“I feel like I’ve been there for a couple games to be honest with you,” Kane said. “It’s nice to score, it’s a good feeling and hopefully it gives me some confidence moving forward and I keep playing like that.”
He’s right. Ten days ago Kane was playing poorly on both ends of the ice but since late last week he’s been better everywhere.
“It’s nice to get that one, and I’d expect him to be more confident in those areas and keep it going,” Joel Quenneville said. “I think goal scorers, and guys that are top producers, that’s what it’s all about. They look forward to playing well, and they measure their play and performance by their production. When it’s been as dry as it was, sometimes it can compound itself, and it plays on your mind.”
After Friday’s goal and assist, maybe the mind games have come to an end.
Keith’s goal-less streak was four times longer than Kane’s. He had gone 29 games without a score until his first period power-play blast found the back of the net. Unlike Kane, Keith wasn’t feeling as frustrated.
“I know I’m a defenseman and I wanted to be good defensively,” he said. “I feel like I was doing that. I didn’t want to change anything. I know I was hitting some posts so I wasn’t thinking about it too much or worrying about it. I knew I was getting some chances. It was nice to see one go in.”
Keith doesn’t always find the shooting lane he’d like but when he moves with the puck as he did on Friday he’s much better getting his shot off and to the net.
“Nice when we shot that puck on the power-play, because I thought we had a couple looks prior to that and didn’t shoot, and we got rewarded,” Quenneville said.
After one goal in 29 games, it’s too early to declare an offensive onslaught coming from Keith or the rest of the defense but if more shots can make it to the net, good things will happen. It’s been a point of emphasis lately and it paid off against the Panthers.