“It’s just good to have him back in the locker room,” he said, “and on the ice.”
Especially the latter.
Kane, removed from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list earlier in the day, scored three goals, helping the beleaguered Blackhawks to their elusive first win, a 5-1 decision over the Ottawa Senators.
Kane provided a much-needed boost to a team that lost its first nine games. After missing the previous four games, Kane added an assist in his 21 shifts, covering 19:40 of ice time. He had five points, but just one goal, in his previous five games, and also was an uncharacteristic minus-7.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves in another solid performance, finally notching a win to show for his efforts in his first year with the club. Brandon Hagel scored twice, and captain Jonathan Toews had three assists for Chicago as it improved to 1-7-2.
Matt Murray made 26 stops for Ottawa in his first game since he was kneed in the head during a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Oct. 23. Alex Formenton stopped Fleury’s bid for his 68th career shutout with his second of the season 1:41 into the third.
Kane’s seventh hat trick in the regular season gave him 408 career goals, moving him ahead of Steve Larmer for third on the franchise list. He also jumped over Denis Savard for third on the Blackhawks’ points list with 1,097.
Chicago grabbed a 2-0 lead when Kane converted a backhand on a power play 2:09 into the second. Kane then buried a cross-ice pass from Erik Gustafsson 1:22 into the third, and made it 5-1 when he beat Murray through the goaltender’s legs on a breakaway with 12:43 left.
The Senators lost for the fourth time in five games overall. It was their seventh consecutive loss to the Blackhawks.
Chicago caught a break 27 seconds into the third when Hagel’s shot from near the blue line got past a screened Murray for a 3-0 lead. It was Hagel’s third of the season.
Assistant coaches Tomas Mitell and Matt Meacham also have left the protocol and are at United Center for Monday’s contest.
The use of the COVID-19 list doesn’t necessarily mean Kane or the coaches tested positive. They could have been deemed a close contact of someone who tested positive. The team was 100% vaccinated at the start of training camp.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.