Jonathan Toews scores in sendoff, but Blackhawks lose to Flyers in overtime

Toews nearly scored on an overtime breakaway, too, but his attempt trickled wide and the Flyers grabbed a 5-4 victory moments later. The Hawks finished the season 26-49-7; their draft lottery positioning remains up in the air pending other results.

SHARE Jonathan Toews scores in sendoff, but Blackhawks lose to Flyers in overtime
Jonathan Toews celebrates his goal Thursday.

Jonathan Toews scored Thursday and called his final Blackhawks game a “fairytale” ending to his tenure.

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews never has loved the spotlight.

But in his Chicago sendoff Thursday — in the Blackhawks’ 5-4 overtime loss to the Flyers to wrap up their season — he sheepishly accepted it.

And halfway through the second period, he gave the sellout crowd at the United Center the kind of moment everyone dreamed would happen.

He won a power-play faceoff, found open space in the low slot, kept his stick on the ice and deflected a shot-pass by Andreas Athanasiou through Flyers goalie Felix Sandstrom’s five-hole to score his 372nd — and last — goal with the Hawks.

Toews held his stick high one last time, fist-pumped as he circled the boards one last time and led the fist-bump line along the bench one last time while his dad contributed to the playoff-like roar that echoed through the building.

‘‘I look back on my career, and I’ve been so lucky,’’ Toews said. ‘‘It’s like a fairy tale. And this is the perfect ending here in Chicago.’’

Later, after Athanasiou completed the Hawks’ strong third period by tying the score with two minutes left, Toews had a breakaway in overtime. Another goal would have blown the roof off the arena and ended his Chicago career in even more fairy-tale fashion.

His attempt trickled an inch wide of the post, however, and Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov scored the game-winner shortly thereafter. Both teams remained on the ice for a video tribute and Toews’ final lap and salute to the fans.

It really could have been a somewhat-awkward celebration, considering Toews’ goodbye was prompted by the Hawks’ decision rather than his own.

But Toews seemed to accept and embrace the finality of the day, even if the tsunami of attention it sent his way wasn’t his favorite part.

Meanwhile, the Hawks finished the season 26-49-7, earning 59 points. They can finish no higher than 30th in the NHL — guaranteeing at least a top-five draft pick — and still could finish lower if they receive more help from the Blue Jackets, who rallied to beat the Penguins in overtime.

Short-term spending

With Toews’ and former wing Patrick Kane’s $10.5 million salary-cap hits gone — as well as the $5.5 million recapture penalty for former defenseman Duncan Keith’s retirement — the Hawks will need to spend money this offseason simply to hit the cap floor.

At the moment, they have only $37.2 million committed for next season; the floor is $61 million.

General manager Kyle Davidson realizes he will need to sign or acquire some decently well-paid players. But he also made it clear he won’t take on any long-term contracts while doing so.

‘‘The flexibility aspect is really key for us because we don’t want to block any of our young prospects out, should they show us that they’re ready to play full-time NHL minutes,’’ Davidson said.

‘‘I’m not saying any of the players we potentially could bring in this summer . . . couldn’t be here beyond whatever we sign them for. But we’re going to remain flexible.’’

Kurashev, Anderson get praise

Davidson offered strong praise Thursday for forwards Philipp Kurashev and Joey Anderson. That suggested the Hawks likely will re-sign the two pending restricted free agents.

‘‘The thing we talked to [Kurashev] about at the end of last year is just consistency . . . [and] bringing it more than he did in the past,’’ Davidson said. ‘‘And he did that. He had a really strong year and established himself as a smart, two-way forward.

‘‘For me, at the end of last year, it was, ‘OK, we’ll wait and see.’ And now, to me, he’s certainly a bona fide contributor at the NHL level.’’

Considering Kurashev’s three NHL seasons have been quite similar statistically, that assessment was mildly surprising. But one figured he would be brought back.

The unprompted shout-out for Anderson, who entered the game Thursday with six points in 23 games since being acquired from the Maple Leafs in February, seemed more notable.

‘‘Anderson has been fantastic and brings a high compete level every game,’’ Davidson said. ‘‘[He] always seems dangerous on the ice. It’s something we’ve been really pleased about.’’

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