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Blackhawks give Senators first preseason win in 2-1 loss

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It wasn’t a great night for Chicago at the United Center.

NHL: Preseason-Ottawa Senators at Chicago Blackhawks Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks dropped another presesaon game Thursday night at the United Center, losing 2-1 to the Ottawa Senators.

Chicago enjoyed an early 1-0 lead thanks to a brilliant pass from Alex DeBrincat to set up Jonathan Toews with an empty net, and the captain managed to get the puck there despite an initial mishandle.

And that’s where the highlights ended for the Blackhawks. Ottawa goals from Matt Duchene and Max McCormick put the Senators ahead and goaltender Mike Condon made those tallies stand up in the Senators’ first win of the preseason. The Blackhawks preseason record fell to 1-4.

Dylan Sikura’s disappearance

There was a ton of hype around the diminutive forward when he made his NHL debut at the end of last season and Sikura looked like a player who could develop into a reliable contributor. But that hasn’t happened during this year’s training camp.

By the end of Thursday’s game, Sikura was skating on the fourth line along with Marcus Kruger and Andreas Martinsen. Those are players who aren’t going to compliment Sikura’s skill set, but time among the top-six forwards has to be earned by young players under coach Joel Quenneville. And, at least in Quenneville’s eyes, Sikura didn’t earn the right to remain up there tonight.

Chicago still has one forward to send down to the AHL before the regular season starts. The odds are up that Sikura will be that player. It’s by no means the end of the road for the 2014 sixth-round pick. But it is a minor disappointment for a player who was expected to be a piece of the 2018-19 puzzle.

This thought may have been influenced by a few tweets from Blackhawks beat reporters during the game:

Anton Forsberg was ... fine, I guess?

He was certainly better than Cam Ward was Tuesday. But a team like Ottawa is far from an offensive juggernaut. Still, credit where it’s due: making 21 saves on 23 shots is a performance that will give an NHL team a chance to win. And that’s more than the Blackhawks received in a lot of games last season.

Ward seems like he’ll be the No. 1 goalie to open the season next Thursday. But given his shaky performance in the last preseason game, Forsberg won’t be too far behind. And it doesn’t seem like either goaltender has locked down the backup spot behind Crawford.

Not a banner night for the Blackhawks

Going doom-and-gloom after a preseason game seems premature, especially when the Blackhawks didn’t dress their best offensive weapon. Let’s just leave it at the performance on Thursday night, against what should be one of the league’s worst teams, left an awful lot to be desired. It could be the doldrums of training camp/preseason on a Thursday night or it could be a case of looking forward to the regular season. Either way, it’s a night worth forgetting for the Hawks.