Blackhawks’ shootout victory eliminates Golden Knights from playoff contention
The Hawks ended up playing a crucial role in the wildest night of the NHL season Wednesday, with Tyler Johnson’s shootout winner giving the Stars the last available playoff spot.
In a strange turn of events, the Blackhawks played a crucial role in the wildest night of the NHL regular season Wednesday.
The Hawks’ 4-3 shootout victory against the Golden Knights at the United Center eliminated the Knights from playoff contention for the first time in their history.
‘‘It’s nice to spoil their party,’’ defenseman Caleb Jones said. ‘‘We kind of tried to play spoiler. We wanted to beat those guys and send them home, too. So it was fun to get the win.’’
Tyler Johnson’s goal in the seventh round of the shootout and Kevin Lankinen’s seventh consecutive save decided the game at the same moment the Stars clinched a point in their matchup against the Coyotes. The Knights had needed a victory and a Stars loss in regulation to stay alive.
For a while, however, both results hung in the balance. The Knights and Hawks were tied 3-3 from late in the second period on, and the Coyotes rallied from 3-0 down to tie their game 3-3 in the third period before eventually winning in overtime.
All of those implications mattered little to the Hawks, who will finish their largely miserable season Friday at the Sabres. But winning their last two home games at least provided something to take pride in.
‘‘We actually played a pretty solid game,’’ Johnson said. ‘‘We were pretty good defensively. It was good to get rewarded that way.’’
Approaching the final year of his contract, which expires in the summer of 2023, captain Jonathan Toews was again noncommittal about his plans beyond that point.
‘‘I’m not going to comment on after next season because I have no idea,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m not going to think about that too much and just going to enjoy this offseason and . . . the process of getting myself ready for next year and feeling good again, feeling like myself again. [I’ll] take next year however it comes.’’
Toews has spent much of the spring grumbling about his and the Hawks’ uncertain futures without making any concrete decisions. It’s just as unclear when he might make those decisions, and he has earned the patience.
The only new things he said regarded his season overall.
‘‘[This was] not what I expected out of myself, even though I missed an entire season,’’ he said. ‘‘[It] was definitely more challenging than I expected it to be. It was a tough year in a lot of ways, but . . . I learned more about myself and the game than [in] any of those years where we were on top of the world. It wasn’t easy, but [there were] definitely a lot of blessings in there.’’
McCabe plans summer
Last summer, defenseman Jake McCabe was coming off season-ending knee surgery in February and was limited in the workouts he could do. He will have no restrictions this summer, however.
‘‘Whenever you’re focusing on one body part, other areas get left hanging in the balance,’’ he said. ‘‘ . . . It’ll be really nice to not have to focus so much on knee rehab and [get] back to my normal training schedule.’’