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Blackhawks beat Senators 4-3 on Patrick Kane’s overtime winner

Showtime made its season debut in Chicago’s first game.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

It looked bleak for the Chicago Blackhawks, trailing 3-2 heading into the final period. But a goal and an assist from Patrick Kane turned a one-goal deficit into a 4-3 Chicago victory over the Ottawa Senators in the season opener Thursday at Canadian Tire Centre.

A pass from Jonathan Toews sent Kane toward the Ottawa net on a breakaway, and No. 88 roofed a backhander to seal the victory.

Chicago also had the first goal of the night. After Ottawa had a flurry of chances to open the game, the Blackhawks took a 1-0 lead when Alex DeBrincat fired a wrist shot past Chicago-area native Craig Anderson. Ottawa tied the game a few minutes later on a Zack Smith goal, then Toews regained the Blackhawks lead on a breakaway.

More on the captain later.

Chicago’s second lead lasted only 96 seconds, as Maxime Lajoie was left all alone in the slot and roofed a one-timer past Cam Ward for Lajoie’s first career NHL goal. Colin White then scored a power-play goal for the Senators, giving the home team a 3-2 lead after the first period.

The Blackhawks brought it in the third period, playing with the urgency of a team desperate for a game-tying goal. And after two periods that were far below his typical performance level, Kane capped a prolific shift by finding Brent Seabrook for the game-tying goal.

Then Kane finished off the comeback in overtime, as Chicago continued its dominance over the Ottawa.

3 Thoughts

Toews looks different this season. In a good way.

It was noticeable in the preseason and it happened again during the first game of the regular season: there’s a spring in Toews’ stride that hadn’t been there in the last couple seasons. It’s hard to find statistical evidence of this, but it certainly felt like Toews was also successful more often than not when board battles occurred. Along with his breakaway goal in the first period, he set up the game-winner by stealing the puck from a Senator and then firing the puck up to Kane for the game-winner. A rejuvenated Toews is going to mean excellent things for the Blackhawks.

Credit to Cam Ward

There has been plenty of lamenting his signing in July (pleading guilty, your honor), and it only got worse after he had some subpar performances in the preseason and allowed a soft goal in the first period that put Ottawa ahead 3-2. But after that goal he was excellent, making key saves on several golden scoring chances for the Senators. Performances like that will give the Hawks a chance to win, and that’s all you ask for from your backup goaltender.

This was probably Ward’s best save, a post-to-post reaction during an Ottawa power play:

So where do we go from here?

Look: we’ve all seen the predictions. No one is expecting the Blackhawks to do much of anything this season. And needing overtime to beat a team that’s projected to be even worse is not going inspire sonnets to be written about this team. But they got two points on the road in a game that, on paper, they probably should win. With games upcoming this weekend against two teams who are expected to be near the top of the standings — the St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs — I’m having a hard time taking away anything other than a good feeling from the season opener.

3 Stars

  1. Jonathan Toews (CHI) — 1 goal, 1 assist
  2. Patrick Kane (CHI) — 1 goal, 1 assist
  3. Maxime Lajoie (OTT) — 1 goal, 1 assist