Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-1 win over the Dallas Stars at the United Center on Friday:
1. Finishing strong at home
The Blackhawks may not be in playoff contention anymore, but they haven't exactly packed it in down the stretch. With a victory on Friday night, the Blackhawks extended their point streak to five games (3-0-2).
They also finished the season with a 19-14-8 record at home after going 18-18-5 last season. They went 4-1-2 in the final seven games at the United Center.
"Full barn again," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "Lots of energy. Nice to see us put some pucks in the net and everyone can feel good about themselves. Obviously, we can carry a good feeling into tomorrow."
Said Kane: "We gotta be good at home and I think that's something that probably hasn't been as good as it should have been the past couple seasons. But still a treat to play here at the United Center and we always feel the fans at our backs, so try to use that to our advantage next season."
2. Corey Crawford injury scare
With two games left, the Blackhawks were expected to give Crawford the start on Friday in front of his hometown fans one last time this season and Cam Ward on Saturday in Nashville for his 700th career NHL game. But the circumstances changed.
While he did start, Crawford left the game in the second period because of a groin injury he appeared to suffer in the opening frame trying to make a save going post-to-post.
Ward eventually replaced Crawford, who did not return and will not travel to Nashville for the regular season finale. But they don't anticipate his injury being serious. The Blackhawks will call up goaltender Kevin Lankinen from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.
3. Personal achievements
It was a well-rounded victory for the Blackhawks, and one that featured several nice milestones.
Let's run them down:
— With an assist, Erik Gustafsson became the sixth defenseman this season to reach the 60-point mark, joining Brent Burns (81), Mark Giordano (74), Morgan Rielly (72), John Carlson (70) and Keith Yandle (61).
— Patrick Kane became the first winger in Blackhawks history to hit at least 108 points in a single season. Denis Savard did it four times as a center.
— Slater Koekkoek scored his first goal as a member of the Blackhawks.
— Chris Kunitz, who received a courtesy start in front of his family in Chicago, scored a goal in what could be one of his final games in the NHL. He's the only active player with four Stanley Cups.
— Ward became the fifth active goaltender to enter the 700-game club, joining Ryan Miller (757), Marc-Andre Fleury (797), Henrik Lundqvist (857) and Roberto Luongo (1,043).
4. The sellout streak continues
Blackhawks fans have been spoiled. In nine straight years from 2009-17, their team made the playoffs each time, appeared in five Conference Finals and three Stanley Cups. But they want more, and they should want more because of where they were before the Kane and Toews era. Nobody wants to go back to those times.
And despite missing out on the postseason for the second consecutive year, that hasn't stopped fans from packing the building on a nightly basis.
For the 11th straight season, the Blackhawks have led the NHL in attendance. Friday marked their 497th consecutive sellout, including playoffs. It's hard to see that ending any time soon.
A cool gesture by the organization to give back to the fans, the Blackhawks gave their season ticket holders an opportunity to upload a personal photo, which were then put together to create collages that filled the numbers of the players' warmup jerseys for the final home game. The jerseys will be signed and then auctioned for charity, with all proceeds benefiting the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation.
"Tonight was great," Kane said. "Well all year round it's been great, but tonight was great too. Just kind of the wherewithal to have the presence of mind to be whistling at the end and kind of showing thanks for the season even though we obviously didn't have the season we wanted. What was it close to 22,000 fans again tonight? Not really surprised anymore, but something we don't take for granted in here and love playing in front of them."
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