After an ugly loss in Dallas, the Blackhawks looked to get back on track in New Jersey against a Devils team that hung a stunning seven goals on the Hawks in Chicago. And coach Joel Quenneville mixed up his lineup in an effort to get things moving in the right direction.
Patrick Sharp returned to the lineup and found himself slotted with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad on the top line. Alex DeBrincat was bumped to the third line where Ryan Hartman was back at center; Vinnie Hinostroza was scratched to make room for Sharp.
On the blue line, Jan Rutta returned from injury; Michal Kempny was scratched.
In the first period, the Hawks looked like the same team from the final 40 minutes in Dallas.
Three Devils goals in 17:18 ended the night for Corey Crawford, who was saddled with the earlier loss at the United Center. Crawford allowed three goals against seven shots before getting the hook.
The first period ended with both teams being credited with nine shots on net but the scoreboard heavily favoring the home Devils.
Chicago must have heard Quenneville loud and clear during the first intermission because they came out firing in the second.
#Blackhawks had 41 shot attempts (22 on goal) in the second period. Devils had 11 attempts (7 on goal).
5-on-5 scoring chances were 19-8 Chicago.
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) December 24, 2017
Despite the huge shot advantage, the Hawks only beat Corey Schneider once – Patrick Kane’s 300th career goal. And the second period ended with the score favoring the Devils 3-1.
Unfortunately, the Devils pushed the lead back to three when Taylor Hall took a bad turnover for a breakaway and undressed poor Anton Forsberg for his 12th of the season.
Chicago got a power play later in the third but the best scoring opportunity came from the Devils. Jesper Bratt got a breakaway and Jordan Oesterle was called for an incredibly soft/generous trip. Forsberg made the save on the penalty shot Bratt was awarded. The power play ended the same way the Hawks’ previous 15 had – without a goal for Chicago.
The Hawks got one final power play with 60 seconds left in regulation. Nothing happened. The game ended 4-1 in favor of the Devils.
Forsberg stopped 21 of 22 in relief of Crawford.
Every Blackhawks skater was on the wrong side of the plus-minus ledger except Kane and Nick Schmaltz. Gustav Forsling and Rutta were credited with the only Chicago assists. Both Ryan Hartman and John Hayden were involved in fights in the game, but the spark they were trying to create was nowhere to be found. Kane led the Hawks with six shots on net.
Certainly not the way the Hawks wanted to go into the Christmas break after a nice win streak. They’ll look to regroup with a few days off before playing their next four on the road. Chicago is 5-4-1 in December.