Friday, June 2 2023
Apr 20, 2023; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New York Rangers right wing Patrick Kane (88) celebrates his goal against the New Jersey Devils during the third period in game two of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Prudential Center.
Apr 20, 2023; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New York Rangers right wing Patrick Kane (88) celebrates his goal against the New Jersey Devils during the third period in game two of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Prudential Center. / Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Nights like Thursday are why Patrick Kane decided to leave Chicago, where he had spent his entire hockey career and won three Stanley Cups, and come to New York to pull on a brand-new jersey and play with new teammates.

Coming off what he himself described as a “passive” Game 1, Kane was a vital part of another big Rangers victory, a 5-1 drubbing of the Devils in Game 2 of the First Round Series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the neighbors and rivals. He scored his first playoff goal as a Ranger and added two crucial assists, giving him his ninth career three-point game in the playoffs.

“Obviously, tough decision leaving Chicago, but I think these are the moments you leave and come to New York for, a situation like this, right?” Kane said afterward, sitting in the visiting locker room at the Prudential Center.

“You’re on a good team. There’s going to be moments in the playoffs where you’re called on to step up and try and produce. So it was nice to do that. Makes it all worth it.”

The Rangers power play is cooking – Chris Kreider has two power-play goals in each of the first two games, making him the first player in NHL history with four power-play goals through his first two playoff games of a single postseason – so if Kane continues his Game 2 form, the Rangers’ offense will be exceptionally dangerous. It’s not like it’s impossible – Kane is a former Conn Smythe Award winner.

But it hasn’t all been easy for Kane since the heralded three-team trade that brought him to Broadway at the end of February. He had 12 points in 19 games with the Rangers and he was not a huge factor in Game 1 of this series, something he freely admits.

He was trying, he said, to play “a safe game, when it comes to playoffs.” He added: “I didn’t have, you know, a great Game 1, but it was nice to kind of come back and be a little more aggressive [Thursday],” he said.

“It’s not easy moving to New York,” Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said after Game 2 when asked about Kane. “It’s a big adjustment for people. He’s been great in the room and is a tremendous teammate, a great guy to have around. I think he takes the time to talk to everyone. I don’t think you’ll find anyone who’ll say a bad word about him and he can do some pretty special stuff.”

Rangers coach Gerard Gallant called it Kane’s “best game, for sure. He had a lotta jump tonight. Getting that goal – great set of hands on him.”

Kane and Kreider weren’t the only highlights, as Kane was sure to point out.

“Liked a lot of things,” he said. “Power play was good. Got some contributions across the board, five-on-five. [Igor] Shesterkin (21 saves) was great again. I thought we hung in there as a team at the end, too, which was nice to see. It’s not uncommon in a 5-1 game with 10 minutes left for things to get a little chippy.”

Kane was referring to several scrapes that bloomed as the game wound down. Four misconduct penalties were handed out to each team with just over six minutes left as the refs tried to bring the mayhem to a simmer.

And Kane lit up when talking about Kreider, who has turned the front of the goal into his own playground this series. “He’s one of the best, I think, not only in the league, just that I’ve ever seen [at tipping pucks],” Kane said.

“He’s able to get his stick on everything and, even in practice, we do a lot of drills where they’re shot from the point and touches everything that comes in. It’s tough to cover that…So if there’s lanes to shoot at we want to shoot it because it’s a good chance he’s gonna deflect it one way or the other and it’s gonna have a good chance of going in.”

Kane and his new team hold a 2-0 lead over the Devils. They’ve destroyed their neighbors’ home-ice advantage and, perhaps, dinged their confidence, too. Asked about taking this kind of series lead back to Madison Square Garden for Game 3 on Saturday, Kane said, “Gotta be happy about it, right? Obviously.

“You come in on the road and you steal two, that’s pretty special against a good team like the Devils. I don’t think we want to sit back or anything but we did our job here. So enjoy the day off and get back to work.”

What does Kane, who has longed to get back to the playoffs since his last trip, back in 2019-20 with the Blackhawks, think the Garden is going to be like on Saturday?

“I can’t imagine,” he said. “I mean, this place, tonight, in the third period with like five or six minutes left, just looking up and seeing all Rangers fans, it puts a smile on your face.

“So I can’t wait to see what it’s like in the Garden.”

Sounds like something else that will make all of this worth it for Patrick Kane.

Source: Yahoo Sports


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