Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane cheers with the fans after scoring three goals in Chicago's 7-5 win over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 6 of the NHL hockey Western Conference semifinal in Chicago.
Get in the face of Patrick Kane, as Vancouver defensemen seemed to relish during their Western Conference semifinal playoff series with the Blackhawks, and you might see his faint beard.
"He's got the worst (playoff beard on the team)," Adam Burish joked. "Tazer's (Jonathan Toews') isn't any good either, but at least he's got some (facial hair) on the side of his face."
In helping lead the Blackhawks to another playoff-series win, Kane's game has continued to grow far more impressively than his light-colored whiskers.
He notched his first career hat trick Monday night in a spectacular display that included a pair of goals in the final seven minutes of a wild third period that featured 6 goals. His third, with 3:43 left, capped the Blackhawks' 7-5, Game 6 win at a raucous United Center.
So much for the 5-foot-10, 175-pounder wing being too small for playoff hockey.
"I've had that my whole career," Kane said of his size and toughness being doubted. "When I was 9, 10 years old, it was always, 'He's not going to be able to play when there's hitting.' When there was hitting, it was, 'Once the guys get bigger and know how to play him better, he's not going to be able to do anything.' Once I got to the NHL, it was, 'It's a different level.' And then the Stanley Cup playoffs, they were saying I'm too small again."
"A lot of people (criticized) him about being pushed down and not being physical enough to play in the playoffs, but obviously he had a great game tonight," winger Troy Brouwer said. "He worked as hard as he could, and as a result of it he had 3 goals and was the difference in the game."
After Kane scored twice in Game 1 of the series, Vancouver defenseman Willie Mitchell didn't exactly give a glowing scouting report of the Blackhawks' No. 88.
"He wasn't any good 5-on-5," Mitchell said.
Said Burish: "Well, I noticed him tonight and I know 22,000 people out here noticed him. He had a special night. It was to see him having so much fun out there."
Kane beat Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo with a pretty stuff shot at the 13-minute mark of the third, pulling the Blackhawks even at 5-5. After Toews put the home team ahead, Kane completed his hat trick by turning a defenseman inside out and slipping a slick backhander past Luongo.
As the United Center erupted and hats cascaded onto the ice, the smallest guy on the ice stood as tall as a giant.
"After the third goal, just going back to center ice, I hugged (Brian) Campbell and I just had chills," Kane said. "I didn't know what went on the next 5-6 minutes. I don't why (coach Joel Quenneville) threw me back on the ice again. I was in another world."