Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night:
1. Corey Crawford hung out to dry in first period debacle.
Christmas is on Monday, but the Blackhawks had a hockey game to play Saturday and they arrived a little late.
The Devils put up a three spot before the Blackhawks could blink, starting with a Brian Boyle goal just 2:48 into the game followed by Kyle Palmieri and Pavel Zacha later adding goals of their own to make it 3-0.
It forced Joel Quenneville to bring in Anton Forsberg for Corey Crawford simply to slow the game down and hoping it would serve as a spark for a Blackhawks team that certainly needed an early jolt.
2. Anton Forsberg strong in relief.
Forsberg hadn't seen game action since Dec. 6 going into the contest, but he nearly got a full game in after coming in relief for Crawford and he stood tall.
Forsberg stopped 21 of 22 shots (.955 save percentage) in 46:38 of action, and denied a Jesper Bratt penalty shot in the third period. His rebound control is getting better, and he did everything he could to keep his team in the game as they looked to overcome a three-goal deficit.
3. Second period? That's more like it.
After falling behind 3-0, the Blackhawks needed to come out with energy in the second and score the next goal, and that's exactly what they did.
They looked liked an entirely different team, finishing the period with 41 shot attempts (22 on goal) and 18 scoring chances and allowed only 11 attempts (seven on goal) and nine scoring chances.
But after all that, the Blackhawks were able to get only one goal and it didn't come until the 17:18 mark of the third period, which cut their deficit to 3-1. The Devils basically survived the second, and then hit the gas pedal again in the third.
4. Patrick Kane gets No. 300.
Kane had scored a goal in three straight before being held pointless — like the entire team — in a 4-0 loss to the Dallas Stars on Thursday night, but he didn't waste any time hitting his new milestone.
Kane flew through the neutral zone, stickhandled his way into the offensive zone then wired a 41-foot snapshot at the left faceoff circle to become the fifth player in franchise history to reach the 300-goal mark for his NHL career.
Kane finished with a season-high seven shots on goal and nine shot attempts in 23:13 of ice time, his fifth-highest time on ice of the season.
5. Line juggling backfires.
Despite a dominant second period, Quenneville went to his line blender and started the third with Patrick Sharp on the fourth line and Lance Bouma on the first. And on Sharp's first shift, he made a dropback pass near the blue line that landed right on the tape of Miles Wood, who fed a pass to Taylor Hall and he didn't make a mistake, burying home the backbreaking goal to make it 4-1.
Quenneville spent the rest of the period trying to find the right line combinations but never got it and it was too late at that point anyway.
It was easy to keep rolling out the same lineup and not to make any changes when the Blackhawks were winning. But in a span of three games, Richard Panik, Sharp and Vinnie Hinostroza have all been healthy scratches up front and they're still not getting the desired results.
The Blackhawks should take this upcoming four-day break as a time to recharge both physically and mentally, but when they come back they'll be faced with the same challenges and it's up to them to take advantage of the opportunities that are clearly there for somebody to take.