Following elimination, Blackhawks want to give fans a show

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Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19), right, moves the puck with right wing Patrick Kane (88) during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets, Monday, April 1, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

by Scott King

The 2018-2019 Blackhawks’ fate was sealed with the Avalanche’s 6-2 victory over the Oilers on Tuesday night.

The Hawks were eliminated from playoff contention for the second straight year after making it to the postseason nine consecutive times.

“It’s disappointing, for sure,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “Having gone through what we went through last year, it was a lot of excitement and a lot of motivation trying to turn things around, coming into this year fresh and learning from or mistakes.

“But obviously there’s still some growing and some improvement and some experience we need to go through. I think that’s the biggest thing is letting this sink in and really identifying where we’ve gone wrong.

“I think there’s a lot of positives this season that we clearly didn’t see last year, whether it’s young guys stepping up and assuming more of a leadership position and feeling more comfortable in the locker room, and the guys that have been here for a while learning that no one really cares what you did years ago.

“We’ve gotta keep pushing ourselves to get better and better. The league’s getting better, our division’s getting better, so it’s tough. It’s a tough league. You’ve gotta give it everything you have and keep learning from some of your shortfalls.”

Now with three regular season games remaining, Toews and co. want to put on a show for the fans who continued to support them during a challenging season.

“There’s only a couple of games left, so I think we’re building towards a better future, I guess,” Toews said. “We’ve gotta keep using these games the same way we have been lately. Obviously our motivation is to keep winning. We’ve fallen short a lot lately. It never feels good. We want to go out there and give our fans something to appreciate the last few games.”

Toews set a personal best for points in the regular season already this year with 78 and is tied for a career high in goals, 34. Patrick Kane needs one point to match his career best total (106) from the 2015-2016 season in which he won the Hart trophy.

“Yeah it’s tough,” Kane said. “It’s just crazy that our season’s gonna be over in five days and that’s it for another year. Pretty frustrating, especially when I think a lot of us feel like we’re in our prime and [are] able to contribute, and had good seasons.

“But that’s the way it is. There’s obviously plays yourself you can look back at and say you could’ve done more here or there and had a bigger difference on the game. It’s just the way it goes. Pretty disappointing for the second straight year not to be in the playoffs here and play hockey when it matters the most.”

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