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Abysmal Blackhawks fall 8-5 to Devils despite Patrick Kane’s best effort

NEWARK, N.J. — At the end of a futile power play in which the Blackhawks failed to fire off a single shot, they saw how easy it is to relapse.

Their clumsy two minutes against the Devils wound down as Dominik Kahun sent the puck out to Duncan Keith at the blue line, but the pass bounced away to Blake Coleman just as he exited the penalty box. Coleman raced away and beat Cam Ward with a fake at the net.

That was five minutes into the game, and the Hawks spiraled from there in an 8-5 loss at Prudential Center. If that score makes it appear remotely competitive, it wasn’t. A couple of third-period goals didn’t cover up how bad this was.

“We weren’t ready,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “Didn’t really give ourselves a chance. We battled back a couple times, but it was kind of fool’s gold.

Kyle Palmieri scores on what looked like it was meant to be a crossing pass. The Devils routed the Blackhawks 8-5. | Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

“So we’ve gotta leave this one behind. I don’t think that was us. Let’s not see that again.”

It sparked flashbacks of their most dismal part of the year, when the Hawks couldn’t do anything right. The eight goals allowed tied their season high, and they were outshot for the sixth straight game, this time 41-32.

Was the Kahun-Keith snafu the ugliest part of their mess? A few other moments deserve consideration.

The Devils scored one goal by accident. Kyle Palmieri crossed the puck to a streaking teammate, but it sailed through a forest of legs and into the net.

Colliton benched Erik Gustafsson in the third period for not playing defense, which is problematic for a defenseman.

The Hawks also went the first three minutes of the game without a shot on goal and mustered five in the opening period.

It got as bad as 6-1 before Patrick Kane and Brent Seabrook scored late in the second to minimize the embarrassment.

“It’s one that you throw in the trash,” Jonathan Toews said.

Colliton yanked Ward in the second intermission after he allowed six goals on 25 shots, which the coach attributed to the overall play rather than Ward struggling, and Collin Delia stopped 14 of 15 in the third.

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Great teams grimace after nights like this and move on with the expectation they’ll get it right. These Hawks can’t assume that, or anything else.

“In the past, if we had a bad period, we’d be able to score a few goals and keep things interesting and tie it up or something like that,” Keith said. “Seems a little bit harder for us to do that this year.”

The Hawks put together a solid month, but they’re 0-2-2 over the last week. The season is dangerously close to surrender, which some think is inevitable.

They need a big winning streak, and they’ve been talking a lot about that lately. They’re in a prime stretch of the schedule with a bunch of beatable teams, but the problem is every opponent thinks of the Hawks the same way.

The Devils are under .500 and had lost three of four. If the Hawks were happy to see them, it was mutual.

If they keep plummeting, at least they’ve got Kane. They’re still can’t-miss viewing when he’s going like this. He uncorked two beauties and is up to 14 goals and 18 assists over his last 18 games.

The Hawks wasted his grittiest effort of the year. Kane played 20:28, roughly his season average, in the first two periods and logged a season-high 28:50 on 30 shifts.

“You’re never really out of it because he makes a couple plays and then we’re right back in it,” Colliton said. “Didn’t want to be playing him as much as we did. . . . He looked fresh the whole time. He’s an amazing player.”

That’s true, but they’re not doing anything if he’s the only one playing that way.