The Blackhawks finally had a lively start. Their offense once again found ways to score, their power play converted twice and they built a three-goal lead in the first period against Devils backup goalie Keith Kinkaid.
Sounds like a victory, right? Not Sunday.
The Devils scored five consecutive goals bridging the first and second periods and beat the Hawks 7-5 at the United Center.
The Hawks, who seemed to break out of their offensive doldrums in a 4-3 overtime victory Saturday against the Hurricanes, scored four of the first five goals and led 4-2 after 20 minutes but faltered badly and slipped back to .500 at 8-8-2. Goalie Corey Crawford was pulled after allowing six goals on 25 shots in two periods.
‘‘It was a struggle right from the start,’’ Crawford said. ‘‘Those come every once in a while during the year. Just have to forget about it and keep playing.’’
Coach Joel Quenneville sprang a surprise when he scratched forwards Ryan Hartman and Tommy Wingels in favor of playing Jordan Oesterle and using seven defensemen. As it turned out, that wasn’t the biggest surprise of the game.
That would be how the Hawks reacted to building their big lead, falling behind 6-4 before a power-play goal by Patrick Kane with three seconds left in the second.
‘‘The variance from our first to second [period] was being exactly how you want to play to exactly how you can’t play,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘Still [were] one behind them at the start of the third and had a terrible shift, and now you’re down by two and a gigantic hole again.’’
Like the rest of the Hawks, Kane was looking for answers. After 20 minutes, the Hawks looked to be in full control. After 40, they needed to rally. And after 60, they were looking at two points they fumbled.
‘‘I don’t know if we thought it was going to be easy the rest of the night or what, but that’s a tough lead to give up, being up 4-1,’’ Kane said. ‘‘Especially to get no points and give up seven goals against. Obviously a disappointing last couple of periods.’’
Artem Anisimov, Alex DeBrincat, Jan Rutta and Tanner Kero scored in the first period to build the 4-1 lead, but little went right after that. The Devils got a hat trick from Miles Wood and goals from Andy Greene, Nico Hischier, Taylor Hall and Brian Gibbons to hand the Hawks a bad loss, one that looks worse because they appeared to have some momentum after rallying Saturday against the Hurricanes.
If they had momentum, though, it lasted only 20 minutes.
‘‘That was frustrating,’’ winger Patrick Sharp said. ‘‘I thought we came out and had a great first period building off that comeback win in Raleigh. And then the game just kind of got away from us there. It was disappointing to give up that many in our building.’’
Sharp said the Hawks could point to some positives offensively. The power play was effective, DeBrincat and Nick Schmaltz played well and the offense showed more signs of life.
But those positives were overshadowed by a second period in which the Devils scored four times and took control of the game.
Sharp knows getting frustrated won’t help.
‘‘I’ve been through it a thousand times, and the only thing you can do is stay positive and keep working,’’ he said. ‘‘Nobody’s going to feel sorry for the Hawks; nobody’s going to feel sorry for me. Hold your head up and keep working. Things are going to break, and I believe in this team in here.’’
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