Kane’s Hat Trick Lifts Hawks Over Coyotes
by Scott King
Nick Schmaltz kicked off the night of his 21st birthday by scoring 37 seconds into the game on a pass from Jonathan Toews. The Hawks’ first line has been the NHL’s biggest juggernaut the past several games and it wouldn’t slow down for the visiting Phoenix Coyotes. Toews had 20 points in his last 12 games heading into Thursday night and would add another two before the game was through.
Although the first line was again a force to be reckoned with, Chicago allowed three Coyotes’ goals in the first period and headed into the second tied 3-3. Ryan Hartman and Patrick Kane were the other first period goal scorers for the Hawks.
The second period would be all Hawks as defenseman Michal Rozsival scored the game winning goal 2:56 in to make it 4-3.
Patrick Kane would steal the show from there. He scored later in the second period and would complete the hat trick in the third. The Hawks would go on to beat the Coyotes 6-3. It was Chicago’s eighth win in their last nine games.
“It feels good. I think [I was] a beneficiary of some nice plays [from] my teammates tonight,” Kane said. “A couple fortunate bounces too. I think overall our team played a strong game.
“Obviously it’s nice to get a lead like that and keep building off it, even after a little bit of a lapse during the first. Good effort by pretty much everyone tonight.”
When asked if the first line being hot opened things up for Kane and his linemates he responded:
“Not only that, but it gives you some motivation too. Those guys definitely carried the load last game and have been playing very strong for the past six, seven, eight games. You see the way they play, they control the puck, they fend off checks, get to the net.
“It’s definitely a little bit of motivation, and it couldn’t come at a better time especially with the stretch we’re in where we need to win games going into the playoffs. Those guys have been playing awesome. They’ve been leading the charge and [we need to] just try to follow the way and make sure we’re doing what we can [on] every other line.”
Nick Schmaltz is firstplayer to score a birthday goal since Patrick Sharp on December 27 of 2014.
He finished the game with a goal and an assist.
“A little earlier in the season I was kind of throwing it (the puck) away when I had time and space,” Schmaltz said. “Now I’m kind of just settling in and playing my game and feeding off those other two guys [who] are great players.”
Corey Crawford saved 34 of 37 Coyotes’ shots Thursday night.
Hawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson left the game after just five shifts in the first period. Hjalmarsson didn’t participate in Thursday’s morning skate.
Coach Quenneville said he’ll know more on the defenseman Friday and that he has an upper-body injury.
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