CHICAGO -- Through the first three games of the Stanley Cup final, Patrick Kane has exactly let me get my calculator app zero points.
It's easy to pick on the big-name, big-game Kane for not producing yet on hockey's biggest stage, but he has been here before, in more ways than one.
Two years ago, Kane had one assist through the first three games of the Stanley Cup finals as the Blackhawks trailed Boston 2-1. You might forget that detail, given that Kane had three goals and an assist in the Hawks’ next two games en route to earning the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Before that, Kane went pointless in the first two games of the 2010 Cup finals, then went on a tear with three goals and five assists over the final four games.
Yes, when the going gets hot, sometimes the Blackhawks do, too. Whether a player, or a team, can draw from past experiences to affect the present might be more writerly myth than reality. We’ll see Wednesday, when the series is due to resume in Chicago.
In Game 3, Kane -- who had 10 goals in the first three rounds of the playoffs -- and the Blackhawks couldn’t convert on a perfectly good opportunity to take a series lead and now find themselves trailing a closely played matchup in which they don’t have home-ice advantage.
On Monday night, the Blackhawks had their chances to start quickly and put the pressure on a team with a mysteriously injured goaltender in Ben Bishop. But only one of their 19 shots found the back of the net. Brad Richards' goal with 5½ minutes left in the period tied it at 1-1, but that’s all they could muster. A sluggish second period followed.
Bishop, who pulled himself twice in Game 2 and played coy Monday morning with reporters about his availability, was clearly laboring with his movements. But Chicago couldn’t take advantage.
“When you’re out there, you can’t be worrying about that,” Richards said. “We’re trying to score goals the best way we can. Obviously you see some things, but we had a lot of other things out there we’re trying to focus on doing. Whether the goalie is hurt or not, he’s a big goalie, we need to get him moving.”
Bishop didn’t have to move much in the second, during which the Hawks mustered just seven shots.
They did take a 2-1 lead in the third period on a pretty Brandon Saad goal, but then allowed Tampa Bay’s Ondrej Palat to answer 13 seconds later on a goal that snuck through a tiny space between goaltender Corey Crawford's left skate and the post.
No one had time to type "momentum."
“I think for sure when you grab momentum after a big goal, you want to try and continue with that,” said Crawford, who had 29 saves. “Giving one back is obviously not what we want, but stuff happens.”
It took another 12½ minutes for Cedric Paquette to score what would be the winner.
The Blackhawks had no answer in the waning minutes.
It isn’t just Kane who is struggling to find scoring opportunities. Jonathan Toews has one assist through three games. Marian Hossa had two assists Monday to give him three for the series, but he doesn't have a goal yet, either.
Hossa missed an open-net shot in the first as Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn tripped him. A resulting four-on-four situation ended in Richards’ goal, but Hossa's miss was one of those moments when grown men and women swear at their TVs. Normally, Hossa doesn't fall as much as he flies.
It’s tough to declare that a hockey player should be scoring, because goals are so fickle as it is, but when you’re on a team with two Cup victories, the in-house expectations are as high as the wannabe coaches in the 300 level.
So how can the Hawks scorers get back on track Wednesday?
“I could probably do a better job of trying to create and get some speed going through the neutral zone,” Kane said. “That seems like that’s where we have our most success and trying to play on their end for the most part.
“We’ll take it upon ourselves to be better in that area and try to produce. That’s what we’re here to do -- obviously when you’re not getting it done, you’re not doing your job out there. I’ll take responsibility for that. I think at this point in time, whether you’re producing or not, you can look in the mirror and ask yourself if you can be better or not.”
The Blackhawks don't need their reflections to answer that question. They know the answer.