off to a hot start

CHICAGO – If Patrick Kane maintains his early season scoring pace, the Blackhawks winger will set a career high in goals even though the regular season is 48 games instead of 82.

Three days after Kane scored the Hawks’ first goal of the season on the road in Los Angeles, he scored the first goal in the home opener against the St. Louis Blues. Kane’s goal helped the Hawks beat the Blues, 3-2, to improve to 3-0-0 to start the shortened season.

Part of the reason for Kane’s fast start could be his recent stint with a professional team in Switzerland. Unlike many top players who trained at home during the 113-day NHL lockout, Kane signed with the Swiss team EHC Biel and scored 13 goals in 20 games overseas.

A fortunate bounce helped Kane score his second goal in three games with the Hawks.

As Blues players were caught up ice, Kane skated toward the net along with teammates Patrick Sharp and Dave Bolland on a 3-0 breakaway. Hawks defenseman Nick Leddy pushed the puck forward to Sharp, who dished it to Kane for the score.

New guy: The Hawks’ recent acquisition of goaltender Henrik Karlsson prompted some questions about whether Ray Emery would be challenged for the backup role.

Barring a significant slump, it appears that Emery’s job is safe. The Hawks assigned Karlsson to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League after acquiring him from the Calgary Flames in exchange for a seventh-round pick in the 2013 NHL entry draft.

“It gives us some organizational depth at that position,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “We know the importance of it. He’s a big guy and he’s played some NHL games, so he’s going to give us certainly some size and he’s got some experience.”

Karlsson, 29, appeared in 26 games in parts of two seasons with the Flames. He went 5-9-8 with a 2.79 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage.

What’s next: The Hawks will fly south today as they prepare for Thursday’s game against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center.

Last season, the Hawks split their four-game series against the Stars, with both teams winning once at home and once on the road. Patrick Sharp and Dave Bolland led the Hawks with three goals apiece during the four-game season series.

Corey Crawford started all four games in net for the Hawks, posting a 2.04 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage.

Hawks bits: Forward Jamal Mayers and defenseman Sheldon Brookbank were healthy scratches against St. Louis, while injured forward Daniel Carcillo remained out.

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