All it took for Patrick Kane to break through was this: going airborne, sailing over the crease and one of the best goalies in the world, poking his stick out at a puck tantalizingly close to the line and then colliding ribs-first with the far post.

That was all, and it was something. At long last, the Blackhawks winger had scored, jabbing in a Bryan Bickell redirect to break through for the first time in seven games. Never has there been a more satisfying moment of sorry play.

"I told Bicksy I was sorry, I kind of stole it from him," Kane said. "I think it might have went in. But it's just kind of instinctive, when you see that puck there, to stick your stick in and touch it."

Kane returned to being Patrick Kane in Game 4 on Thursday at the Staples Center, applying pressure and creating offensive havoc and, yes, scoring a goal in a crucial 3-2 victory over the Kings that opened a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference finals.

He had not scored since Game 3 against the Red Wings. His coach politely but publicly insinuated what was probably hammered home in private: Kane needed to elevate his game.

So he fired a team-high seven shots on net, drew two penalties and nearly had a two-goal night but for a desperate, pads-stacked glove save by the Kings' Jonathan Quick.