Winless Blackhawks drop home opener 4-1 to Islanders

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • The New York Islanders celebrate a goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Chicago. The Islanders won 4-1.

    The New York Islanders celebrate a goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Chicago. The Islanders won 4-1. Associated Press

  • Chicago Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton talks to players during a timeout in the third period of the team's NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Chicago.

    Chicago Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton talks to players during a timeout in the third period of the team's NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Chicago. Associated Press

  • New York Islanders' Kieffer Bellows (20) shoots the puck across the goal crease past Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury as Connor Murphy also defends during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Chicago.

    New York Islanders' Kieffer Bellows (20) shoots the puck across the goal crease past Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury as Connor Murphy also defends during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Chicago. Associated Press

  • New York Islanders' Andy Greene, left, checks Chicago Blackhawks' Kirby Dach during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Chicago.

    New York Islanders' Andy Greene, left, checks Chicago Blackhawks' Kirby Dach during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Chicago. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 10/19/2021 11:03 PM

For the first time in more than 19 months, the United Center was packed to the brim with fans as the Blackhawks opened the home portion of their season against the Islanders on Tuesday.

The 20,279 in attendance cheered during a Jonathan Toews pregame video, chanted "TONY! TONY!" for the recently deceased Tony Esposito, heartily booed coach Jeremy Colliton and rose as one when Toews was the last player introduced before Jim Cornelison belted the national anthem.

 

The electric atmosphere spurred the Hawks to a strong start as they took the first 6 shots and nearly scored on a gorgeous Henrik Borgstrom-to-Alex DeBrincat feed early on.

But DeBrincat's shot did not find its mark. Nor did Borgstrom's point-blank attempt moments later. Nor did DeBrincat's short-handed breakaway wrister late in the second period. Nor did Calvin de Haan's blast that laid in the crease after squirting through goalie Ilya Sorokin's legs in the third.

All of these missed opportunities came back to haunt the Hawks and they fell to 0-3-1 after dropping a 4-1 decision.

Afterward, a reflective and subdued Toews tried to put things in perspective. It's still early. The Hawks played better -- far better -- than they did against Colorado, New Jersey and Pittsburgh.

So eventually, he figures, things will break their way.

"Every team goes through a spurt early in the year where you're gonna have four, five, six games that don't go your way and nothing really feels like it's rolling downhill for you," said Toews, who won just 7 of 17 faceoffs in almost 18 minutes. "It's frustrating, no doubt.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"But whenever you go through that you have a choice and the only choice for us is to keep working through it and to look for solutions to get better because of it."

The Islanders went up 1-0 on a goal by Anthony Beauvillier at 4:08 of the second period, then got a pair of goals from Oliver Wahlstrom at 0:48 and 8:51 of the third. Wahlstrom's first goal came after a Borgstrom turnover in the Hawks' defensive zone.

"Obviously the second goal was one we didn't want to give up," Colliton said. "Then … our level dropped and obviously they go (up) 4-0, which is tough to watch based on how good we played early on.

"We still have to hang on to the good parts and build on it and understand that when you're not very good for the first three games don't expect to just turn it on and play well and get the results and the bounces. It's just never how it works."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Hawks' lone goal came from MacKenzie Entwistle with 26 seconds remaining.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves in net, while Sorokin turned away 39 shots. The biggest may have been DeBrincat's breakaway when it was still 1-0.

"Credit to him. He made some saves, you know?" Colliton said. "But it's over now. We can use it as an excuse or we can start preparing tomorrow to be really good on Thursday."

That's when Vancouver comes to town. Then it's Detroit on Sunday and Toronto next Wednesday before the Hawks hit the road again.

Repeat this performance and you'd think a victory or two is on the horizon. But take a step back and it will soon be a difficult hill to climb.

"There's an old saying that you can't win the Stanley Cup in October, but you can put yourself out of the race," said forward Kirby Dach. "We've got to figure it out quick and get back in the win column."

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.