Blackhawks' Kane, small in stature but big in the clutch
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Patrick Kane is among the smallest players on the ice but the speedy forward continues to rise to the occasion at the game's biggest moments.
Just under six feet tall (1.83m), the 24-year-old Blackhawks playmaker has a knack for important goals and on Saturday scored twice in Chicago's 3-1 win over the Boston Bruins in Game Five of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Kane also scored the game winner in overtime in the Cup-clinching game three years ago and his teammates hope his hot streak continues as the series heads back to Boston for Game Six.
"He keeps showing up in big games. The Olympics, the Stanley Cup playoffs, you name it. He likes to score on those big stages and he did again tonight," said teammate Patrick Sharp.
From Buffalo, New York, the baby-faced Kane is known for his slick stick handling, crisp passing and highlight-reel plays.
"He's got a string on the puck," said line mate Bryan Bickell, who had the primary assist on Kane's game winner on Saturday.
Kane also has a habit for scoring a lot of goals closely together. His second career playoff hat-trick in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals helped his team beat the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.
His goals on Saturday were of the more opportunistic variety, scooping up loose pucks near the net and twisting them past Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask.
"He's scored a couple of big goals hanging around the net. That's what we need is guys going to the net and picking up those rebound goals," said Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith.
Coach Joel Quenneville shuffled his forward line combinations after a poor Game Three, pairing Kane with Jonathan Toews and bruising winger Bryan Bickell, and the formula has paid dividends with four goals in two games.
Kane has three of those goals, leaving the Blackhawks a win away from their second NHL championship in four seasons.
"Kaner has got high-end skill. He's dangerous with the puck, his anticipation without it offensively is high end," Quenneville said.
"Guys that have that kind of innate skill of scoring and being a top player, they anticipate like the rest of us would like to."
(Additional reporting by Michael Hirtzer; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)