SOCHI, Russia – The Chicago Blackhawks better hope Patrick Kane’s scoring touch returns when he gets back to the Windy City, because his puck luck never cleared Russian customs.
One of the most prolific scorers in the NHL was shutout in Sochi, capping a disappointing tournament that began with such high hopes of returning to the gold-medal game.
Kane certainly had more than his share of chances tonight, but was once again kept off the scoreboard in a disappointing 5-0 loss to Finland in the bronze-medal game.
“We ran into a tough defense last night [in a 1-0 loss to Canada], and tonight we had a lot of chances but just couldn’t find the back of the net,” said Kane, who led the team with five shots on goal against Tuukka Rask, who missed Finland’s semifinal game against Sweden with the flu.
Kane was bitten by his own brand of the flu bug tonight, twice awarded penalty shots only to be thwarted by the hockey gods.
“It was a frustrating night, and probably one of the more frustrating games that I’ve been a part of,” Kane said. “I had chances and thought I was moving pretty good and setting up plays.”
His first penalty shot came in the first period when Kimmo Timonen played a broken stick like a pool shot combo to knock the puck off of Ryan Kesler’s stick. On the penalty shot Kane cut to his backhand and had a chance up to put the puck up high but it rolled off the toe of his stick.
“Is having Patrick Kane on a penalty shot what you want? It’s exactly what you want,” head coach Dan Bylsma said.
Kane became the first U.S. player to have a penalty shot since Jack Riley beat British goaltender Stanley Simon in the 1948 Olympics.
The second opportunity came in the second period when defenseman Leo Komarov turned Kane’s stick into composite toothpicks when he found a seam and was in alone on Rask. This time Kane froze Rask but hit the post high to the glove side.
“When you get two penalty shots you’re thinking that you’re going to score at least one of them,” Kane said. “On the first one the puck rolled up on me, and the second I hit the post. It’s frustrating to say the least.”
There was even one point at the end of the first period when a shot seemed to slip past Rask with Kane in front of the net. He immediately raised his arms to celebrate the goal but a video review showed that the puck had actually sailed wide and tickled the twine from the outside. As he was leaving the ice, Kane actually took a lap behind the goal to inspect the back of the net.
The near misses on the penalty shots brought back not-so-distant memories of Kane’s breakaway in overtime against Russia when he couldn’t beat Sergei Bobrovski through the five hole.
“Your heart starts pumping for sure when you get that chance (breakaway in overtime). It would have been nice to finish it off,” he said after the U.S. pulled out a dramatic, 3-2, shootout victory over the host team.
“I kind of wish I made a different move, but what are you going to do in the heat of battle. You think of something, try to go with your instincts and it didn’t work.”
It was that type of a tournament for the NHL’s fifth leading scorer. His bad luck here certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. In the tournament he trailed only Phil Kessel in shots on goal. Unlike Kessel, who had five goals and eight points, Kane was held to four assists and no medal to show for his efforts.
“It’s definitely frustrating and disappointing right now. At the same time I thought we had a really good team in the round robin and played well against the Czechs and everything kind of turned with a one-goal loss last night,” he said.
“It was a pleasure playing here and it was awesome to be a part of the Olympics again and hopefully that chance comes again and we can redeem ourselves.”