By Chris Kuc
May 18, 2009
After playing his finest game wearing the Indian head on Monday night, Kane's first career three-goal effort had earned him a new nickname of "Hatrick Kane."
Fast-forward to Sunday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena, where Kane was left to ponder how the Detroit Red Wings had held him without a shot on goal in the Wings' 5-2 victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
"When I had the puck they kind of collapsed on me, so I was trying to find the open guy a little bit more," said Kane, who was held off the score sheet and finished with a minus-3.
"They play a good defensive game. Even their forwards are really good defensively. Sometimes it works to your advantage and [Sunday] it didn't. I have to create more."
The defending Stanley Cup champion Wings used a stifling defense and their high-flying forwards kept the pressure on Hawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin as they drew first blood in the best-of-seven series.
Kane wasn't alone in his frustrations as linemate Jonathan Toews -- who had scored twice in Game 6 against the Canucks after leading the Hawks in goals during the regular season -- was held without a shot during the first two periods and finished with three.
"Let's not get carried away," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said of shutting down the Hawks' top line. "It's one game. But 'Z' (Henrik Zetterberg) and his linemates, 'Mule' (Johan Franzen) and [Dan] Cleary, and then obviously Nicklas [Lidstrom] and [ Brian] Rafalski on the back, they make it hard on you. It's just one of those situations that [we] had a good [game] and the puck bounced our way."
The puck actually bounced the Hawks' way in the first period as they got on the board first when Adam Burish pounced on a loose puck in front of the Wings' net and backhanded it past goaltender Chris Osgood for a 1-0 lead.
It was short-lived, however, as Cleary scored less than three minutes later and Franzen gave Detroit a 2-1 lead with a second-period score.
Kris Versteeg's power-play goal early in the third tied it 2-2. With Jonathan Ericsson in the box for interference, Brent Seabrook's slap shot from the point hit a Detroit defender's stick before Osgood made the save despite traffic from the Hawks' Dustin Byfuglien. Unable to get a good look, Osgood (30 saves) gave up a rebound to Versteeg, who fired it into the open net.
After that it was all Red Wings. They reeled off goals by Mikael Samuelsson and Cleary past Khabibulin (38 saves), and Zetterberg added an empty-netter.
"We pretty much gave them the game," Versteeg said. "We came out strong and we came out hard. The momentum was in our favor and then we had a couple of lapses here and there and too many turnovers.
"That's why they're the most dangerous team in the league. When you give a great team that many chances, they're going to put it in the back of your net."
The Hawks will try and regroup for Game 2 on Tuesday night, when they hope to get more production out of young stars Kane and Toews and their offense in general.
"We have to get that spark back and just play with more of an edge," Toews said. "And we know we have to make a bigger difference in the offensive zone."
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