They looked like the Blackhawks of old.
Or at least like the Hawks of a month ago.
Seventeen minutes into their game against the Devils on Sunday, coach Joel Quenneville's team electrified the United Center crowd with gorgeous passes, perfect shots, beautiful pokechecks and top-notch goaltending.
Artem Anisimov, Alex DeBrincat, Jan Rutta and Tanner Kero staked the Hawks to a 4-1 lead over a New Jersey squad that -- just like the Hawks -- played the night before.
Game over, right? Two easy points coming their way.
The Hawks went from world beaters to executing a world-class meltdown in the span of 20 minutes as the Devils scored 5 unanswered goals and posted a stunning 7-5 victory.
"I don't know if we thought it was going to be easy the rest of the night or what," Patrick Kane said. "That's a tough lead to give up -- especially to get no points and give up 7 goals."
Said Patrick Sharp: "Sometimes when a team gets down like that early, they might go away. Those guys just played even harder. Give them credit."
New Jersey built some momentum when Miles Wood scored 36 seconds after Kero's goal at 17:37 of the first period to cut the Hawks' lead to 4-2.
"It would have been nice going into the second with a 3-goal lead instead of a 2-goal lead, but still," Kane said. "We've got to be better."
New Jersey proceeded to rattle off 4 second-period goals to take a 6-4 lead, but Kane got the Hawks within 6-5 when he snapped a seven-game goal-scoring drought with 2.7 seconds left in the period.
Richard Panik was whistled for a slash 61 seconds into the third period, however, and the Devils capitalized when Wood scored his third goal of the game at 2:21.
"They work hard, but we lost all that intensity," Quenneville said. "One of our better first periods that we've seen. … When we don't manage (the puck) and don't execute properly, it's in our net. But we showed in the first period when we want it and we execute, we can make plays and things happen."
Corey Crawford stopped 19 of 25 shots and was replaced by Anton Forsberg (12 saves) to start the third period.
Despite the rough night, Sharp wasn't about to mope about one loss in mid-November.
"I've been through this 1,000 times," Sharp said. "The only thing you can do is stay positive and keep working. Nobody's going to feel sorry for the Hawks. No one'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."
The Hawks (8-8-2) return to action Wednesday when they host the New York Rangers, who have won six straight.