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Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews to miss ‘a few games’ with upper-body injury

Jonathan Toews will miss “a few games” with an upper-body injury, Joel Quenneville said Thursday morning. The Blackhawks captain and No. 1 center apparently suffered the injury very late in Tuesday’s loss to the Colorado Avalanche, which eliminated the Hawks from playoff contention. Quenneville said Toews exited the game early, but he was on the ice as late as the 18:04 mark of the third period.

Toews had played in all 74 games to this point. He was trying to play in all 82 games for the first time since the 2008-09 season, his second in the league.

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“Jonny will be out a few games here,” Quenneville said. “We’ll re-evaluate with him next week.”

Jonathan Toews has 20 goals and 32 assists in 74 games this season. (AP Photo)

Toews has been playing his best hockey of the season in March, posting four goals and eight assists in the last 10 games while skating on a line with Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane. He scored his 20th goal last Saturday at Buffalo, a plateau he has reached in all 11 of his NHL seasons.

Without Toews, the Hawks lineup changes pretty dramatically, with Nick Schmaltz centering Patrick Sharp and Kane, and Vinnie Hinostroza moving to center between Saad and rookie Matthew Highmore, who returns to the lineup after missing a game with an upper-body injury. Andreas Martinsen will stay in the lineup with Toews exiting.

“We’re looking to have balance on our lines, and the [opportunity] for quality ice time in all aspects is going to be there,” Quenneville said. “Special teams, important faceoffs, last minute. All the big minutes will be shared.”

Ready or Motte
Tyler Motte never expected to be traded twice in eight months, nor did he want to be. But now that he’s with the Vancouver Canucks, the former Hawks winger is optimistic that he’ll be able to stick around this time.

“It’s another opportunity,” Motte said before his first game back at the United Center. “Obviously, it’s a little difficult being moved around a little bit, but it’s a great city. I’ve loved my time there so far. Good group of guys in this locker room, great organization, so I’ve enjoyed it so far. Just looking forward to continuing to prove myself on the ice.”

Motte was included in the trade last June that sent Artemi Panarin to the Blue Jackets for Brandon Saad and Anton Forsberg. He was then dealt to Vancouver for Thomas Vanek at the trade deadline. A lot has changed in Chicago since he left.

“It is a surprise,” Motte said of the Hawks missing the playoffs. “The talent they have in that room, the run they’ve had — you hate to see something like that come to an end.”

Getting killed on the kill
The Hawks PK had been one of the few bright spots for much of the season, but its recent decline has played a big role in the team’s inability to protect leads. The Hawks entered Thursday’s game having given up five power-play goals in the previous three games. Opponents had scored on 10 of 23 power-play chances.

“We’ve been giving up momentum that way, which is frustrating,” Connor Murphy said. “Guys want to be out there and want to be in the right spots to block shots and do what it takes. It seems like it hasn’t been going our way lately with that stuff. It comes down to pushing harder, reviewing stuff and working to try to be better in that way. It’s not good. Seems like it’s been a similar tale the last few games.”

Injury report
Anthony Duclair was originally forecasted to be out “one to two weeks” when he suffered a leg injury in Boston on March 10. But he has yet to return to the ice, so there’s no real chance he returns Saturday against the Islanders. Quenneville didn’t have an update on Thursday.

“We’ll see when he gets on the ice,” he said.

Follow me on Twitter @MarkLazerus
Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com