Patrick Kane leads Blackhawks past Bruins in Game 5

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane celebrates with goaltender Corey Crawford defeating the Bruins in...

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane celebrates with goaltender Corey Crawford defeating the Bruins in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final at the United Center in Chicago, June 22, 2013. (JIM YOUNG/Reuters)

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:28 AM ET

CHICAGO - The supporting cast on both teams was taking care of the bumps and bruises, in some cases severe.

But when the star power hits the stage for the Chicago Blackhawks, the lights get that much brighter.

Thanks in part to a couple of virtuoso goals by Patrick Kane, the Hawks are a game away from clinching the Stanley Cup, the treasured trophy that will be in TD Garden for Game 6 Monday night.

As eye-catching as each of Kane's goals were in the 3-1 Hawks win over the Boston Bruins on Saturday, the night was as much about punishment as playmaking.

By the third period, both of the team's top centres – Patrice Bergeron for the Bruins and Jonathan Toews for the Hawks – were out of commission.

While updates on both players were vague, Toews took a couple big shots to the head and was glued to the bench for the third period.

Bergeron, meanwhile, was taken to an area hospital after the second period with an apparent upper-body injury.

The pounding and either star's ability to recover from it will be a developing and compelling storyline in what has been a sensational series thus far.

While this game didn't go to overtime as three games have already, it was in doubt until the final seconds when Dave Bolland's empty-netter sent a surge of relief through the United Center.

The Hawks got the early jump with first- and second-period goals from Kane before going in full protect mode after Zdeno Chara got the Bruins to within one early in the third.

There is little doubt that Kane was the hero, however, as both teams were looking for their brightest stars to shine with the series reduced to a best-of-three.

Each goal showcased the sublime puck handling skills of the Hawks star, who is now tied for second in playoff scoring.

"He's dynamic with the puck," Hawks defenceman Duncan Keith said. "There's no guy I'd rather have going down the ice with the puck and following the play than him.

"He's just at a whole other level with his ability to skate with his head up and make plays from in tight."

Each of Kane’s goals Saturday were prime examples. On the first, he snuck behind the net to avoid Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara on the other side. When the puck came to him he tucked it in behind Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask.

On the second, the puck was once again magic on his stick as he roofed it from in close after big linemate Bryan Bickell did the dirty work behind the net to set it up.

"Kane scored three goals in the last two games, and he's very good at kind of finding those quiet areas and sliding into the right spot," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "That's why he's a good player and scores a lot of goals."

How clutch is Kane? Saturday's effort was his fourth career multi-goal playoff game and he has seven tallies, including two game winners, in his past seven games.

The Hawks were also helped by a nice bounce-back effort from goaltender Corey Crawford, so maligned for surrendering five goals in the Game 4 win Wednesday night in Boston.

The only Bruins shot to beat him was high to his glove side, but it was a rocket from a prime spot in the slot that few goalies on the planet would have wanted to get in front of let alone be able to.

"I'm not really listening to it, I've got a job to do," Crawford said about the scathing indictments on his glove hand in particular. "It doesn't really affect what I'm going to do on the ice."

The Crawford haters may be surprised to know that he is a stellar 11-2 at home these playoffs, fashioning a 1.54 goals-against average and .939 save percentage.

As unpredictable as this series has been so far, who knows what to expect at TD Garden on Monday? The Bruins, who have now lost two in a row for the first time since their opening-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, thrive in desperate spots.

While the Hawks have the edge now, the Bruins will be heartened by recent history. Four of the past six times a team that has gone up 3-2 after a 2-2 split in a Cup final, the loser of Game 5 has gone on to capture the championship.

The Hawks, meanwhile, would rather avoid having to use both of their opportunities to clinch.

"We know the situation but we're not going to get ahead of ourselves," Keith said. "There's a lot of sacrifice to be made yet."

Sacrifices that are starting to define a series that nobody is ready to see end just yet.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/longleysunsport


Photos