CHICAGO (MCT) — As Blackhawks rookie Andrew Shaw skated to the penalty box after a fight Sunday and mugged for a lathered-up United Center crowd, cameras caught an entertained Patrick Kane hanging on the boards with a wide grin interrupted only by his ubiquitous mouthpiece.
"I'm sure I'm not the only one that was laughing," Kane said.
Nor is it the only Kane-related moment to smile about lately. The scoring touch that eluded the kinetic forward for more than half a season evidently has returned in abundance just in time for the playoffs, with two more goals Sunday continuing his late-season resurgence.
Kane had 13 goals in the first 63 games but has tallied 10 in the last 17, ironically getting in gear while playing out of position at center thanks to Jonathan Toews' extended injury absence.
"It's nice to finish off strong," Kane said. "I hope I can continue this in the playoffs and continue it throughout playoffs. That's my goal, to kind of make up for the season I had. "But I'm not worried about what happened in the past, I'm worried about what's ahead and how I can help this team."
As far as specific reasons for the surge, Kane suggested it was more a matter of right place, right time, right mentality once he scored in back-to-back games in late February.
"You look at some (Sunday), even some (Saturday), I found myself in some open areas where I could get a good shot on net," Kane said. "Once you start scoring goals, you realize the excitement it brings you and you want to keep doing it.
"When you go through a dry spell, you kind of get that feeling away from you and you realize how much you love it. You want to keep it going."
Tightening up: The Hawks surrendered eight goals in regulation over the weekend, which may precipitate some refocusing on the defensive end, even with Duncan Keith returning from his five-game suspension Thursday.
"The biggest thing is when we're giving them up," winger Viktor Stalberg said. "We shouldn't be in the position that when we tie it up (Sunday), we get scored on the next shift. That's something we have to clean up.
"It really takes away the momentum we get from making something happen out there. But I don't think we're giving up too many Grade A chances. We're still the team pushing the pace." Lineup shuffle: Barring an unexpected setback, it seems Toews is set for a return Thursday in Minnesota. The team has gone 12-5-3 without its captain but Hawks coach Joel Quenneville considers fitting Toews in a good problem to have.
"We'll see how that all plays out," Quenneville said. "We like options."