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Updated: March 20, 2014 10:31AM



All the good vibes, all the positive energy, all the confidence and momentum the Blackhawks generated from going toe-to-toe with the St. Louis Blues, chasing Ryan Miller and winning a physical, playoff-like showdown 4-0 on Wednesday night were tempered by the sight of Patrick Kane, on his knees, struggling to get up.

Kane will miss “about” three weeks, according to Joel Quenneville, and could be out for the rest of the regular season, with an apparent knee injury suffered in the second period.

“It’s definitely a huge loss for us,” Quenneville said, before knocking on his wood podium. “We’ve been fortunate as far as not getting hit too hard [by injuries]. But you’re going to get tested at some point.”

After Sheldon Brookbank hit Brendan Morrow along the boards about 7:30 into the second period, Morrow fell on Kane’s left leg. Kane went down to the ice and stayed on his knees for a few seconds before slowly getting up and limping off, clutching the area around his knee. After staying on the bench for a minute or two, he headed back to the dressing room and didn’t return.

Kane leads the Hawks with 69 points, with 29 goals and 40 assists. Quenneville said the Hawks will have to replace him by committee, as no one player could do everything Kane does on the power play and 5-on-5. Quenneville said he’ll lean even heavier on his four-line rotation to spread Kane’s minutes around.

Quenneville — who became the third coach to reach 700 regular-season victories — said he didn’t know if Kane’s injury could affect the status of prospect Teuvo Teravainen, who’s expected to come to Chicago later this week. If the Hawks expect Kane to be out longer than three weeks, they can put him on long-term injured reserve, which would free up the salary cap space for Teravainen. But all that is in limbo at the moment.

“We’ll have to find a way as a team to make up for that,” said Ben Smith, who had been centering Kane’s line. “It’s hard to pick up the slack for a guy like Patrick Kane. But as a team, guys will have to step up and play some bigger minutes. And we’re definitely capable of that. But it probably has to be a group effort.”

Said Andrew Shaw: “He’s a great player, you can’t fill his shoes, that’s for sure.”

The injury cast a shadow on an otherwise tremendous evening for the Hawks, who won the game they had to win in order to keep alive their hopes of winning the Central Division title, moving into sole possession of second place, six points behind the Blues, who have a game in hand. Corey Crawford made 23 saves for his second shutout of the season, outdueling Miller, who had been 7-0-1 with 13 goals allowed in eight starts since coming over from Buffalo in the biggest deal of the trade deadline. The Hawks got two power play goals, killed off all three penalties and dominated possession without taking any foolish retaliatory penalties against the physical Blues.

Duncan Keith, Shaw, Marcus Kruger and Smith scored for the Hawks.

“It was a big game for us, that was a playoff game, a playoff atmosphere,” Crawford said. “The sort of game that, once the playoffs roll around, we can look back on this and already have a feel for what it might be like.”

The Hawks also sent a message to the league-leading Blues — who had won all three previous meetings this season and had been a remarkable 20-0-2 in the division — that the defending Stanley Cup champions are still around, and still in the mix.

Perhaps even more importantly, they sent a message to themselves.

“It was definitely big to get two points against them, and to just know in our heads that we can compete with that team,” Smith said. “We’ve been up and down a bit here the last month or two, and it’s time for us to make our push.”

It’s also time to see what the Hawks are made of, with their top scorer sidelined.

“He’s a special player,” Quenneville said. “And we’ll have to work our way through it.”

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus



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