Patrick Kane hopes goal sparks streak, but Blackhawks’ balanced offense isn’t a problem

It was only a matter of time before Patrick Kane hit the back of the net.

After a notable — but not terribly concerning — five-game goal drought to start the season, Kane finally shattered his goose egg during the first period of the Blackhawks’ 4-2 win Tuesday.

The man with the third-most goals in franchise history was, personally, never worried at all. He had said as much before the game.

“I don’t think I want to stress about it too much,” Kane said. “I feel like our line is getting better every game, and there’s been chances the past couple games. [I’ve] just got to stay confident and be ready, when those chances come, to finish them off.”

And he said as much after the game, too.

“There’s going to be times throughout the season where you might go five games without a goal, but it’s probably more noticeable when it’s the beginning of the season,” he said. “So it’s nice to get one, but [I’ll] hopefully build off that and get hot here.”

The play that led to the goal likely matched what coach Luke Richardson imagined when he put Kane and newcomers Max Domi and Andreas Athanasiou on the first line together. As Richardson himself said Tuesday, it demonstrated “what we’ve been working on since Day One.”

Following a dump-in and line change, Athanasiou stepped up at the attacking blue line to interrupt a Panthers breakout pass, allowing Domi to gather the puck in the neutral zone and pass to Athanasiou.

The speedy winger raced by Panthers defenseman Marc Staal down the wall before cutting and stopping behind the net. Domi drove into the crease, drawing two Panthers with him and leaving Kane wide-open at the faceoff dot on the side Athanasiou had vacated. Athanasiou passed to Kane and he had plenty of time to pick and hit his spot behind Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

“It’s a forecheck and an entry, and then the ‘F3’ is there as a good safety valve,” Richardson said. “It’s not rocket science; every team does it. But it’s just executing, and we’re executing better than everybody else right now.”

Through six games, Kane leads the Hawks with 32 shot attempts (second-place Seth Jones has 24) and 17 shots on goal, and he trails only Tyler Johnson in individual scoring chances (he has 16, Johnson has 17).

Kane has also tallied four assists, tying him for the team lead with Johnson — who unfortunately appears destined to miss significant time with the apparent foot or ankle injury he suffered Tuesday.

But the Hawks so far haven’t relied on Kane to drive their offense quite as much this season as in years past, and they’ve welcomed that trend.

He has recorded points on 25% of their goals and been on the ice for 38% of their scoring chances, down from 42% in both categories last season. That means other forwards are chipping in more — and indeed, the Hawks tout eight players with four or more points already.

“[Kane is] used to scoring, and this team is used to having him score,” Richardson said. “We need him to do that. But the beginning of the year is showing maybe we can score in different ways with different lines. That will take pressure off him.”

Added Kane: “You always want to feel that pressure that the team needs you to produce, and you always want to produce every night. But to win in this league, you need contributions from everyone. You can’t just depend on two or three guys. We’ve seen that over the years: Teams that have a lot of depth and can play four lines . . . seem to have the most success. It’s a good thing to have in here right now.”

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