Streak broken, Blackhawks regrouping vs. Devils
A seven-game winning streak filled with offense pushed the Chicago Blackhawks into playoff contention in a tight Western Conference race.
It ended against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night, and the Blackhawks (23-25-9, 55 points) are curious how they will respond to their first loss in nearly a month. Chicago gets a chance to start another winning streak Thursday night when it hosts the New Jersey Devils.
The Blackhawks were eight points behind the second wild-card spot and owned the fewest points in the Western Conference when their losing streak hit five games with a loss to the New York Rangers on Jan. 17. Then they averaged 5.1 goals in their next seven games to get within four points of the last playoff spot.
The streak finally ended with a 6-3 loss at Boston, where Chicago trailed 3-1 after 20 minutes and 4-1 late in the second before getting within one goal.
"We had a good run, and at some point, it was going to end," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. "For me, it's more important how we're going to respond.
"Do we continue as when we were playing well, playing sharp, playing hard, playing for the team, excited about the opportunity we have? Or do we kind of shrink? That's the challenge."
While Chicago's winning run ended, Patrick Kane remained on a roll. He recorded an assist on a third-period goal by Erik Gustafsson, keeping a pair of streaks going with a point in 15 straight games and an assist in 14 straight.
During Kane's points streak, he has 11 goals and 21 assists, an average over two points per game. His assists streak tied the Blackhawks record set by Hall of Famer Stan Mikita from Nov. 26-Dec. 25, 1967.
Despite Kane's latest Helper, the Blackhawks will be hoping to rebound from getting outshot 37-26 and allowing their most goals since an 8-5 loss at New Jersey on Jan. 14.
"Nothing's a given," Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith said. "Every team is good. Every two points is going to be a hard-fought two points, and we don't have any place for complacency or anything like that. I mean, look at the standings and look where we're at."
In the last meeting against Chicago, Kyle Palmieri and Blake Coleman scored two goals apiece. But since then, little has gone right for the Devils (21-27-8, 50 points), who enter the game with a double-digit deficit in the Eastern Conference race and the league's second-fewest points.
Since beating Chicago, the Devils are 3-7-1 in their last 11 games, with five losses occurring by more than one goal. New Jersey's latest defeat was an 8-3 result at St. Louis on Tuesday, when it allowed three goals apiece in the first two periods.
"We were disconnected," coach John Hynes said. "We've got to find a way to get more connected for the Chicago game."
Tuesday was the second time the Devils allowed eight goals and the 17th instance they allowed at least five goals. Their only win in those games was the last meeting with Chicago.
"We didn't deserve it right from the start," Devils captain Andy Greene said. "We just weren't there, and I don't know why."
Keith Kinkaid allowed all eight goals, with three of those coming after the puck deflected off the skate of a teammate.
Pavel Zacha, Palmieri and Micro Mueller scored for the Devils, who were outshot 39-23. For Palmieri, it was only his second goal since his two-goal night in the last meeting with the Blackhawks.
The Devils were without Coleman due to an upper-body injury. He is second on the team with 18 goals and is day-to-day.
New Jersey is 5-0-2 in its last seven meetings with the Blackhawks. In their last visit to Chicago on Nov. 12, 2017, the Devils recorded a 7-5 victory after overcoming a 4-1 deficit.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 13, 2019