Three Stars: Kane’s Hat Trick Sends Hawks to Finals

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Thanks to a hat trick by Patrick Kane, the Chicago Blackhawks have advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in four years with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Kings. 

We’ll have plenty of coverage of this game tomorrow on the blog, but for now, here are Saturday’s Three Stars:

Third Star: Andrew Shaw

Shaw has made a name for himself in these playoffs by playing on the edge throughout, occasionally taking silly penalties in the process.

In this game, however, Shaw behaved himself and was a huge asset to his team. He laid out Mike Richards with a huge hit at center ice in the contest, and when Dustin Penner tried to fight him after the clean play, Shaw skated away, a veteran decision that has to be noted with his team up 2-0.

He also drilled Jake Muzzin behind the net in the third period, and he even drew a penalty on that same sequence when he was cross-checked in the face by Matt Greene. The ensuing power play didn’t end up resulting in a goal for the Hawks, but Shaw skated right back onto the ice for the beginning of the man-advantage, with blood dripping from the cut on his nose.

Finally, Shaw had an excellent performance in the first overtime period, with a great forecheck towards the halfway point of the frame that not only allowed the Hawks to get a much-needed line change, but also kept the puck in Hawks control and nearly enabled them to win the game on that possession.

Shaw is not a guy who is frequently hitting the scoresheet for the Hawks, but when he plays a sound physical and smart game like this, he provides a big boost as the team’s third line center.

Second Star: Patrick Kane

Kane, who was the forgotten man through the first three games of this series, has come back with a vengeance in the last two playoff contests.

He had a goal in Game 4 that helped the Hawks to a comeback victory, and he added two more in this one. The first was an excellent play by the 24-year old winger, as he patiently collected the puck and skated around the net until he found an open lane to shoot from, roofing a top-shelf beauty over Jonathan Quick.

On Kane's second goal, he roofed another great shot after Bryan Bickell tripped up Kings forward Justin Williams behind the net to clear out the traffic.

Ultimately, the goal didn’t end up being the decider, but his overtime tally, coming on a beautiful two on one rush with Jonathan Toews, was, and sent the Hawks to the handshake line. Yet again, he went top shelf on the play, and the United Center erupted. 

Whether it was because of head coach Joel Quenneville's message that he expected more from his star players, or watching videos of his goals during the season with his father after Game 3, Kane has looked like a man possessed in the last two games, and the Boston Bruins may be hit with a buzzsaw come Wednesday night. 

First Star: Corey Crawford

Crawford has stood tall for the Blackhawks throughout the postseason, and at no time were his abilities more on display in the third period and first overtime of Game 4.

He made several huge saves, including two fancy glove saves that evoked memories of Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard as the Kings dominated possession in the first half of overtime.

His calm demeanor clearly had an effect on the rest of his teammates, and they ended up finishing the period with a flurry of offensive activity to back him up.

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