Patrick Kane takes center stage in Hawks opener
BY BEN MEYER-ABBOTT email@example.com October 7, 2011 11:08PM
Patrick Kane checks Stars center Mike Ribeiro into the boards in the second period Friday night. | Sharon Ellman~AP
Updated: November 16, 2011 11:22AM
DALLAS — Patrick Kane is used to being center stage.
A two-time All-Star, the scorer of a Stanley Cup-winning goal and the second-fastest player in Blackhawks history to reach the 200-point mark, Kane continued on a Hall of Fame trajectory last season as one of only 15 point-a-game players in the NHL.
But all of that came as a right wing and not as a center, which Kane was asked to be Friday for the first time since an unsuccessful, one-period trial in the preseason of his rookie year.
‘‘Pat was great,’’ said Marian Hossa, who was paired with Kane on the Hawks’ second line, along with Andrew Brunette, in a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. ‘‘He was flying through the middle, and we created a couple chances. It’s too bad we didn’t score.’’
Kane assisted on Nick Leddy’s goal. But that was with 13.6 seconds left in the game while the Hawks had the extra attacker.
Kane’s second line was held scoreless before coach Joel Quenneville opted to push him back to the top line with Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews in an effort to jump-start the offense.
‘‘I didn’t mind [Kane’s performance],’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘I know that we loaded up with him and Sharp and [Toews] as we went later on there in the game, but I didn’t mind him at center. I thought that [second] line was OK.’’
Kane had five shots in 21:52 and did well in areas where concerns had been expressed about him living up to his new responsibilities at center. He tracked back several times to take the puck off the sticks of the Stars and won six of nine faceoffs.
‘‘The whole training camp when I played with him, he was decent on the faceoffs, and that’s great,’’ Hossa said. ‘‘It’s nice to see a wing all of a sudden winning lots of faceoffs.’’
Kane didn’t speak to reporters after the game but said beforehand that he was encouraged by the connection he, Hossa and Brunette made during the last two weeks of the preseason.
‘‘You’re going to need some chemistry to get things going, but I think all three of us are pretty familiar with playing with different players,’’ Kane said.
‘‘Sometimes you get the chemistry right away, sometimes you don’t. For us it seems like we played pretty well to start off, and hopefully our chemistry just keeps getting better.’’
Said Hossa: ‘‘We had some chances, but we have to create a little bit more, especially traffic in front of their goalie.’’