CHICAGO -- Seven-year-old Patrick Kane began preparing for what the 25-year-old Kane did Friday to propel the Chicago Blackhawks to a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series.
It was when Kane was 7, he began practicing the backhanded shot that in 18 years has developed into one few players in the world can duplicate, and he utilized that talent at a much-needed time for the Blackhawks.
The Wild had scored twice in the third period and tied the score after the Blackhawks had built a 2-0 advantage. Less than two minutes after the Wild's second goal, Kane skated with the puck into the Wild's zone from the left side and worked his way into the right circle. He shielded the puck with his body as Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin lunged for it with his stick. After creating some space, Kane kept his eye on the puck, lifted it from the ice in the bottom of the right circle and placed it over the left shoulder of Wild goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov for a goal.
"It's a shot I've been trying to make since I was 7 years old and started playing hockey," Kane said. "It's a little more successful when you're younger but always nice to see them go in."
As for seeing them go in, that's actually not true.
"To be honest with you, it's not something you really see," Kane said of where he's aiming with the backhanded shot. "It's something you're hoping is open. Just off instincts with the play, there's maybe a chance that spot's open. It's not like I'm looking up and seeing exactly where I'm shooting, to be honest with you."
Kane thought Sidney Crosby and a few other unnamed players had the capability to score a similar goal. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville wouldn't put many others in that category.
"Kaner scored one of those goals not many guys in the league could try or [do]," Quenneville said.
Kane added to the highlight goal with a more simple one later in the period to give the Blackhawks a 4-2 lead. He has five goals in seven playoff games this season.
Kane's linemate Patrick Sharp has seen Kane put away some eye-opening goals throughout their careers together, but it never gets old for Sharp.
"He's so calm with the puck in tight space," Sharp said. "He can make shots that not a whole lot of people can make. That backhand is a good example of it. The thing I like about Kaner the best is the big stages -- he always seems to step up and put one in, whether he's back home in Buffalo for a big game, time and time again in the playoffs he scores goal. It seems like he wants that goal all the time. Big goal, big third period for Kaner."
Seven-year-old Kane would be proud.