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updated: 10/6/2017 9:00 AM

Title-race with Pens matters to Blackhawks

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  • Bob Chwedyk/bchwedyk@dailyherald.comChicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane during the red carpet ceremony before the Blackhawks home opener against the Penguins.

    Bob Chwedyk/bchwedyk@dailyherald.comChicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane during the red carpet ceremony before the Blackhawks home opener against the Penguins.

  • Bob Chwedyk/bchwedyk@dailyherald.comChicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews walks the red carpet ceremony before the Blackhawks home opener against the Penguins.

    Bob Chwedyk/bchwedyk@dailyherald.comChicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews walks the red carpet ceremony before the Blackhawks home opener against the Penguins.

  • Bob Chwedyk/bchwedyk@dailyherald.comNewly acquired Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Cody Franson high-fives during the red carpet ceremony before the Blackhawks home opener against the Penguins.

    Bob Chwedyk/bchwedyk@dailyherald.comNewly acquired Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Cody Franson high-fives during the red carpet ceremony before the Blackhawks home opener against the Penguins.

 
 

Thanks to the Pittsburgh's triumph in the Stanley Cup Final last June, the Penguins officially pulled up alongside the Chicago Blackhawks in the race for NHL team of the salary-cap era.

Before the teams squared off in the Hawks' season opener Thursday night at the United Center, Jonathan Toews and his teammates were asked if this matters to them in the least bit.

And for most of them, it certainly does.

"When you're watching a team like Pittsburgh, let's say in the playoffs last year, you're almost rooting for them to lose so they don't catch you," Patrick Kane said.

The Penguins' titles came in 2009, '16 and '17, and they became the first team in almost 20 years to repeat as champions.

Toews and Corey Crawford both said the Hawks should be more motivated than ever to try and win it all a fourth time.

"I guess you can say that winning three Cups in … the last decade (is) not special now that we're not the only team to have done it," Toews said. "You could say it even surpasses (us) by going back to back.

"There's no doubt if that fire wasn't back before, it is now. … We want to be one of those teams that's considered one of the best and one of the winningest in this era."

Said Crawford, who was part of the 2013 and '15 title teams: "That's definitely a big competition. Something we want to do every year is to win and we want to be the team that has the most in this new era.

"It's tied now, so maybe that gives us a little extra motivation -- if we even need that. But it's been fun winning and that feeling makes you want to do it again."

Bickell honored:

One day after signing Bryan Bickell to a one-day contract, the team honored him with their One More Shift promotion before Thursday's season opener vs. Pittsburgh.

Bickell skated onto the ice after public-address announcer Gene Honda introduced the entire team, including Marian Hossa, who was standing on the bench with Joel Quenneville and the other coaches.

The crowd erupted when Bickell hit the ice. He was greeted by all of the Hawks on one of the blue lines and stood next to Jonathan Toews for the national anthem.

Bickell finished his career in Carolina last season after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Slap shots:

Nick Schmaltz and Tanner Kero were injured during the Hawks' 10-1 victory over Pittsburgh, but coach Joel Quenneville expects both players to be able to play Saturday against Columbus. … Duncan Keith needs 10 goals to hit 100 for his career, while Brent Seabrook needs 11. … If Joel Quenneville wins 49 games this season, he will hit 900 for his career.

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