Blackhawks Lose in the Shootout, but Who Cares Because Jonathan Toews Is Back

The NHL preseason is a lot like Whose Line Is It Anyway? where everything is made up and the points don’t matter. To a degree, at least.

For the Blackhawks on Wednesday night, they opened the 2021-22 preseason against the Detroit Red Wings and although they blew a 3-2 lead late in the third period and ended up losing in the shootout, the best news of the night was the long-anticipated return to the ice for Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews.

Even though it wasn’t a sellout crowd at the United Center (which wasn’t a surprise on a Wednesday in the preseason during a pandemic), after more than 13 months since his last game for Chicago, the fans were ready to welcome back their beloved Captain.

Quickly in the first period, Toews tallied his first point of the preseason, getting a secondary assist on the 1-1 goal from Dominik Kubalík.

Chicago would get out to a 3-1 lead in the second period, but it was short lived as the Red Wings cut it to a 3-2 game just 28 seconds later. Chicago would hold that 3-2 lead until there was less than two minutes to play in regulation, but the Red Wings would get the tying goal and head to overtime. In the extra frame, Toews nearly had the game-winner as a shot on Red Wings goaltender Calvin Pickard trickled through his pads but short of the goal-line.

To the shootout we would go and Toews was first over the boards for the Blackhawks.

Just like old times.

Unfortunately, the Blackhawks wouldn’t be able to capitalize on the hot start in the shootout and Detroit would come away with the 4-3 win. Toews’ final stat line saw him skate 22:48 minutes, take three shots on goal, tally an assist and a shootout goal, and go 15-for-21 at the face-off dot. That final number was a facet of the game that the Blackhawks missed dearly last season as they finished the year ranked 29th in the NHL at the dot, winning just 46.3% of their draws.

Hear from Toews during the first intermission and following the game:

We’ve been talking about his return for months, but it has been with the caveat that Toews would need to take baby steps when coming back to the team. He’s had that so far, but tonight was the first taste of “NHL” hockey that Toews has had in over 13 months. He was thrown into it tonight and so far, so good for the 33-year-old.

A few quick thoughts on some of the other 18 players on the ice for the Blackhawks tonight:

•   Adam Gaudette was playing like a man who deserves a job in the NHL. He was doing everything you’d want to see out of a player on the cusp of a roster spot.
•   Lukas Reichel was not bad in his first taste of “NHL” hockey in his career. He was inches away from getting an assist and a goal tonight, but was just off the mark. Encouraging first performance from the rookie.
•   Kevin Lankinen looked to be shaking off “rink-rust” in net tonight. Stopping 30-of-33 shots, there were many times throughout the game where Lankinen was scrambling and fighting the puck.

Training camp resumes for the Blackhawks tomorrow, with their next preseason game coming up on Friday night as they will host the St. Louis Blues.

written by

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.

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