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Blackhawks unravel against Islanders in home opener

The Hawks remained winless through four games after a 4-1 loss spoiled what, through the first two periods, looked like a better effort.

The Islanders pulled away in the third period to beat the Blackhawks 4-1 on Tuesday.
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton walked out to a chorus of boos during coach and player introductions Tuesday. Based on his expression, he seemed to know it was coming.

The result that sent fans to the exits well before the final horn — a 4-1 loss to the Islanders, the Hawks’ fourth consecutive defeat to open the season — won’t help his reputation.

“They want to win,” Colliton said. “They have a lot of pride, and they want to have success.

‘‘It was a really good response in the first two periods in particular and parts of the third, as well. When you don’t get rewarded for it, it’s tough.”

Through two periods, the Hawks did look better. They limited turnovers and produced a number of good scoring chances that simply couldn’t dent Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin. They led 18-9 in shots on goal at the first intermission and finished with a 40-29 advantage.

But a 1-0 deficit devolved into a rout in the third period thanks to three Isles goals in an 11-minute span, and the Hawks again started looking like a group suffering under the mounting pressure.

They’ve trailed for almost 194 minutes this season without holding a lead and have been outscored 15-3 during five-on-five play.

“Every team goes through a spurt early in the year where you’re going to have four, five, six games that don’t go your way and nothing really feels like it’s rolling downhill for you,” Jonathan Toews said. “It’s frustrating, no doubt. But whenever you go through that, you have a choice. And the only choice for us is to keep working through it.”

Last season, the Hawks lost their first four games, then rallied to get above .500 after 21 games. But relatively few teams have started 0-3-1 and gone on to make the playoffs — including last season’s Hawks, of course.

Notes: Mike Hardman left in the third period after a high hit, looking wobbly and disoriented. Colliton said after the game that he was still being evaluated.

† With Hardman’s recall Monday, the Hawks sent young defenseman Ian Mitchell down to the AHL.

† The announced attendance was 20,276, extending the Hawks’ sellout streak to 532 games (excluding last season).

Tony Esposito, the legendary Hawks goaltender who died in August at 78, was honored with a pregame tribute.