Blackhawks let another early deficit spiral into blowout loss against Jets

The Hawks have conceded the first goal in eight consecutive games. And after falling 7-2 on Sunday, they’ve now lost seven games in a row. The trends are no coincidence.

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The Jets celebrate a goal against the Blackhawks.

The Jets routed the Blackhawks 7-2 on Sunday.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Blackhawks can’t find a way to score first.

They’ve conceded the first goal in eight consecutive games. And after a 7-2 blowout loss Sunday to the Jets at the United Center, they’ve lost seven consecutive games. The trends are no coincidence.

‘‘ ‘Frustrating’ is a good word, but I think it’s more exhausting,’’ coach Luke Richardson said recently. ‘‘It takes a lot out of you in this league to play from behind.’’

Overall, the Hawks have conceded the first goal in 17 of their 21 games. (The last time they scored first was Nov. 10 against the Kings.) They have lost 13 of their last 15 games to fall to 6-11-4.

‘‘If we score [first], maybe it’s different,’’ Richardson said after the game. ‘‘Maybe we’d dial in a little deeper instead of playing a little more spread apart. I think it could help, but we can’t just snap our fingers and do it. We have to work for it.’’

For a moment, the Hawks thought they finally had snapped their streak of allowing the first goal. Andreas Athanasiou poked in a rebound of a shot by Patrick Kane and celebrated what he thought to be his seventh goal of the season.

He — and the crowd of 17,611 — thought wrong. Athanasiou’s goal was ruled offside on review after a Jets challenge. Not long after that, Jets forward Jansen Harkins finished off a lengthy scramble around the net to give the visitors the lead.

The Hawks, to their credit, occasionally have found some traction once they’ve fallen behind in recent games, including a rally to tie the score from a 3-0 deficit last weekend against the Penguins.

But they’ve run out of steam before translating most of those comebacks into victories, and there was no rally at all Sunday. The Jets skated away with the game in the second and third periods.

Saku Maenalanen — a depth forward who entered the game with five career goals — scored twice, his second strike coming on a perfectly placed snipe over Hawks goalie Petr Mrazek’s glove. When an opponent receives contributions like that, it’s nearly impossible for the depth-lacking Hawks to keep up.

The home locker room remained closed for an unusual 14 minutes after the final horn, and captain Jonathan Toews spoke once it opened. Those are two common signs of a team meeting.

‘‘Ultimately, we’re in a situation here where we’ve lost quite a few games, and it’s not a good feeling,’’ Toews said. ‘‘It’s easy, when you don’t get those bounces, to let it deflate you. And collectively we’ve just got to be a little bit more mentally strong and know that we’re in this situation and we’ve got to work ourselves out of it.

‘‘I’m never going to get into the specifics about what’s being said in the locker room. But we all agree that, as a group, we need to be more mentally prepared. Even if there are nights where it’s a long season and sometimes you don’t have the energy . . . you’ve just got to find ways to play a better team game and keep yourself in games.’’

The Jets’ victory continued their pattern of domination against the Hawks in recent years. They’ve won six of the last seven and 13 of the last 16 meetings.

But even though the Jets will return to Chicago on Dec. 9, the Hawks will be more focused moving forward on two more relevant patterns: not scoring first and not winning very often against anyone.

‘‘We can’t just say, ‘Oh, yeah, I should’ve done better,’ ’’ Richardson said. ‘‘We have to act better. Otherwise in the NHL, your time doesn’t last long.’’

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