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Kane clinches 3-2 shootout win for Blackhawks

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Updated: January 19, 2014 8:48PM

You saw it in flashes on Sunday at the United Center, a play here, a hit there, a roar everywhere — Patrick Kane spinning and sending a perfect cross-crease pass to Brandon Saad, Brandon Bollig and Milan Lucic jawing along the boards, 22,197 fans inhaling at the same time with every scoring chance down the stretch in a tied third period.

Each moment was a glimpse into the past, a brief reminder of the breathless pace, the jaw-dropping action and the excruciating intensity of last June’s Stanley Cup Final between the Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins.

“It felt like a playoff game, for sure,” Kane said after his first shootout goal of the season gave the Hawks an immensely entertaining 3-2 matinee victory — their first overtime or shootout win since Nov. 29.

Of course, this wasn’t a playoff game. But it sure felt a lot like those epic encounters did last spring. And far more importantly, the Hawks sure looked a lot like the high-octane juggernaut team that won that series, and the Stanley Cup, in six games.

After weeks of listless play, a big, ballyhooed weekend against the Ducks and the Bruins have brought the Hawks back to life, with four points in the standings and an extra jump in their step.

“The middle [of the season] gets a little dull,” Kane admitted. “It was nice that we had two big games against two great teams to get us back up and going.”

The Hawks and Bruins had no trouble getting up for a rare 11:30 a.m. start, pushing the pace right from the first drop of the puck. Marian Hossa scored his fifth goal in as many games just 4:13 into the game, as Patrick Sharp used a big burst of speed to chase down a loose puck and feed the hard-charging Hossa for a 1-0 lead.

But Brad Marchand scored with 18.9 seconds left in the first, then again just 50 seconds into the second period to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead. But Bollig somehow slipped a soft shot from a sharp angle between Tuukka Rask and the inside post midway through the second period to make it 2-2, setting the stage for 35 rollicking minutes until the shootout finally ended things.

Jonathan Toews joked that he was “just glad it didn’t go to three overtimes,” like Game 1 of the Final did. But a game this well-played surely deserved a better ending than a gimmicky shootout.

“Win or lose, I don’t put too much emphasis on the shootouts because it goes down to individuals, but I think as a game, it was a great game,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “I thought both teams played well. Both teams competed hard. … Again, I guess it just continues to be the same as it was last year, need overtime to resolve these games against us.”

For those keeping track, it was the second straight time the Hawks erased a 2-1 deficit to beat the Bruins 3-2. This wasn’t “17 seconds” by any stretch of the imagination, but it was just one more fleeting reminder of those heady days in June, and the magic these two teams seem to bring out in each other.

“It was two fast teams [playing] at their best, and definitely a good hockey game to watch,” said Corey Crawford, who made 34 saves. “We knew it was going to be a tough game, and they didn’t disappoint.”


Twitter: @marklazerus

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