One week before their season opener, Blackhawks lose to the Senators

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CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) celebrates his goal in the first period during a game between the Ottawa Senators and the Chicago Blackhawks on September 27, 2018, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

CHICAGO – They hit the ice at the United Center on Thursday night for an exhibition. When they do so a week from now, it will be for real.

The Blackhawks and the Senators are slated to open the 2018-2019 season on Thursday, October 4th in Ottawa. It will be the first of 82 games for the clubs, each hoping for an improvement from a disappointing, playoff-less 2017-2018 campaign.

Thursday was a tune-up for that contest, the second-to-last preseason game for the Blackhawks and the Senators before things get real in a week. It continues to be a chance for a collection of younger players to show head coach Joel Quenneville what they’ve made of, and what they could contribute to the roster right now.

But once again it was a long-time veteran who registered the only tally for the Blackhawks in a 2-1 loss to Ottawa at the United Center Thursday night.

After a two-goal night against the Red Wings on Tuesday, Jonathan Toews notched his third goal of the preseason just over seven minutes into the first period. Unfortunately, it was the only goal for the Blackhawks on the night, as Ottawa goalie Mike Condon stopped 28 shots to keep the home team off the scoreboard the rest of the night.

Anton Forsberg, who got the start and played all 60 minutes in net for the Blackhawks, was up for the challenge. But he allowed a goal early in the second period to Matt Duchene; then he gave up one 2:58 into the third to Max McCormick to close out the scoring.

In his chance to make a case to start on opening night if Corey Crawford isn’t ready, Forsberg stopped 21-of-23 shots from the Senators in his best performance so far in the preseason.

There is still a lot to work out for Quenneville and his staff over the next few days, but at least NHL hockey that counts is just around the corner.

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