Mini road trip, major disaster: Hawks lose 4-3

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Erik Gustafsson (56) works with the puck as New York Rangers right wing Jesper Fast (17) reaches for it during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, at Madison Square Garden in New York.

    Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Erik Gustafsson (56) works with the puck as New York Rangers right wing Jesper Fast (17) reaches for it during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, at Madison Square Garden in New York. Associated Press

  • Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Collin Delia (60) makes a save against New York Rangers left wing Jimmy Vesey (26) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Rangers won 4-3.

    Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Collin Delia (60) makes a save against New York Rangers left wing Jimmy Vesey (26) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Rangers won 4-3. Associated Press

  • Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Collin Delia (60) reacts as the New York Rangers celebrate a goal by right wing Mats Zuccarello during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, at Madison Square Garden in New York.

    Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Collin Delia (60) reacts as the New York Rangers celebrate a goal by right wing Mats Zuccarello during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, at Madison Square Garden in New York. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 1/17/2019 9:47 PM

A mini road trip turned into a major disaster for the Blackhawks.

In desperate need of points to have any hope of qualifying for the postseason, the Hawks first watched New Jersey score 5 unanswered second-period goals in less than 13 minutes during an 8-5 loss Monday.

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With two days to lick their wounds, coach Jeremy Colliton's squad came out with much more purpose and passion against the New York Rangers on Thursday, but sloppy turnovers and poor passing led to a familiar result: A 4-3 loss to a 20-20-7 Rangers squad that isn't exactly lighting the world on fire.

The Hawks, who got goals from Brandon Saad (14), Alex DeBrincat (24) and Dominik Kahun (8), are 1-4-3 in their last eight games and 16-24-9 overall.

"I feel better about how we played," coach Jeremy Colliton told reporters. "We had a couple of letdowns -- mental errors or whatever it may be. (They) ended up in the back of our net. It was unfortunate after the start we had. We really played well in the beginning of the game."

No doubt about that.

The Hawks dominated play for the first 6 minutes, getting 8 shot attempts (4 on goal) to none for the Rangers. Saad, who has 5 goals in his last 10 games, cashed in on the power play at 5:41. It marked the seventh straight game the Hawks have scored with the man advantage, their longest run since a 10-game stretch during the 2013-14 season.

"I think we're calming down a little bit," DeBrincat said. "We were fumbling the puck (and) nervous to make a play. But now we're passing well -- good, hard passes and it's really moving them around and we get to take some shots. ...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The compete level on the power play's a lot better than it was and that's a big part of it."

The Hawks are 9-for-21 on the power play over their last seven games and 16-for-43 (37.2 percent) over the last 14 games.

Soon after Saad's goal, the Rangers started getting physical and doled out 10 first-period hits, 4 from the 6-foot-2, 204-pound Cody McLeod. His biggest came when he flattened Jonathan Toews near the boards in the Hawks' defensive zone.

The Hawks fought through that at first, but things turned around after Jesper Fast thwarted an Erik Gustafsson scoring chance with a fantastic backcheck. After Gustafsson crumbled to the ice, Filip Chytil picked up the loose puck, outskated Henri Jokiharju 170 feet the other way and beat Collin Delia with a neat backhand-forehand move at 13:20 to make it 1-1.

Four minutes later, Mats Zuccarello cleaned up a rebound in front of Delia to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.

"We scored the first goal and things are going well," Colliton said. "Then we end up down 2-1 and we're playing uphill after that. ... We had our chances to tie the game.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Unfortunate because I thought we competed. It wasn't enough."

Down 3-1 in the waning moments, Jonathan Toews had half the net open on a one-timer but fired it right into Henrik Lundqvist's belly with 48 seconds remaining. Twenty-seven seconds later, Mika Zibanejad sealed the deal with an empty-net goal.

Dominik Kahun did score with 1.5 seconds remaining to complete the scoring.

Patrick Kane notched the 554th assist of his career on DeBrincat's third-period power-play goal that trimmed the Rangers' lead to 3-2. Kane is now tied with Doug Wilson for the third-most assists in franchise history.

The Hawks return home to host Washington on Sunday and the Islanders on Tuesday, then have nine days off.

• Twitter: @johndietzdh

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