What’s four weeks in between successful Blackhawks homestands, anyway?

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Patrick Kane goes all-out on an empty-net attempt in the Blackhawks’ 6-3 win over the Penguins. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Four weeks ago — though it seems longer ago than that — the Blackhawks were tying a bow on a homestand that had lifted their spirits and given them the idea that they could have a season worth remembering.

The Blues, Kings and Wild had visited the United Center, and — five points later — the Hawks seemed to have gotten over the shock and sting of coach Joel Quenneville’s firing. Newcomer Jeremy Colliton seemed to be making a difference.

‘‘If we put a consistent stretch of high-level performances together, we’ll get our points, regardless of who we play,’’ Colliton said.

Making things all the more promising was the play of goalie Corey Crawford, who had been nothing less than brilliant in those three games, stopping 98 of 100 shots on goal. Colliton called him ‘‘great,’’ and it fit.

The Hawks were packing their bags.

‘‘It’ll be a fun trip,’’ Colliton said. ‘‘Another measuring stick.’’


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The very next game, in Washington, Tom Wilson scored against Crawford 54 seconds into the action. So began one of the most deficient, defective, demoralizing stretches of Hawks play in memory.

They were on their way to 10 losses in 11 games and what now is a 1-8-1 record on the road since Colliton took over as coach. Crawford dropped eight consecutive starts. The loss to the Capitals was the first of 11 games in a row in which the Hawks fell behind in the first period. In 10 of those 11 games, they fell behind 2-0 in the first period.

Their 6-3 victory Wednesday against the Penguins at the United Center was like a rain shower in the desert.

‘‘It’s a relief,’’ captain Jonathan Toews said. ‘‘It’s definitely just a good feeling for guys. We’ve got something to celebrate. We’ve got something to enjoy. We were reminded with an exciting reason to come to the rink [Friday against the Jets] and come out with the same effort. It’s something we’ve got to be aware of and build off of in the next one.’’

The last team in the NHL to reach 10 victories, the Hawks probably won’t want to remember this season at all. But the longest homestand of the season does offer a glimmer of hope. Or maybe more like a barely perceptible flicker.

The Jets, Sharks (Sunday) and Predators (Tuesday) all will be formidable foes. Then again, the same could be said about Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.

Six Hawks scored against the Penguins, including Toews, who became the seventh member of the team’s 700-point club. But the enduring image from that game is of superstar Patrick Kane — who didn’t score — sliding on his chest in the late stages in an all-out effort to put the puck into an empty net. By that point, sealing a rare victory would’ve been well worth the facefirst mash into the end boards that awaited him.

‘‘Hard-nosed,’’ Colliton said of the Hawks’ collective effort. ‘‘Hopefully, that will turn into more points.’’

More points, raised spirits, a renewed sense of direction — a few victories on home ice could bring all that. But that measuring stick Colliton spoke of four weeks ago? Let’s keep that stashed in a dark corner for a while, regardless of how this homestand plays out.

NOTE: The Hawks put defenseman Jan Rutta on waivers. He could be claimed by another NHL team or end up being assigned to the Hawks’ American Hockey League affiliate in Rockford.

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