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10 observations: Blackhawks squander early lead in loss to Devils

10 observations: Blackhawks squander early lead in loss to Devils originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Chicago Blackhawks squandered an early lead and lost to the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Sunday at the United Center.

Here are 10 observations from the loss:

1. The Blackhawks got off to a strong start, scoring the first goal for the third straight game thanks to Taylor Hall, who found the back of the net 1:51 into the contest. But they allowed two goals in a span of 1:34 later in the first period, which disrupted the momentum. The Blackhawks fought back late in the third but couldn't get the equalizer. They still have not won consecutive games yet this season.

2. Man, the Devils are a fast team. Watching them in person feels different than watching them on television. Speed all over the lineup.

3. On New Jersey's third goal, Connor Bedard tried throwing a backhand pass across the ice in the offensive zone and it got intercepted, which led to a rush chance the other way. The Devils eventually capitalized when Curtis Lazar directed John Marino's pass into the net. Bedard was frustrated with himself after the play and went to slam his stick on the glass before stopping himself.

4. Lukas Reichel's line with Andreas Athanasiou and Taylor Raddysh was flying. When the three of them were on the ice together at event strength, the Blackhawks outshot the Devils 8-2, according to Natural Stat Trick. Good to see Reichel get some penalty kill time, too.

5. Arvid Söderblom probably had a horrible taste in his mouth after his last performance in Monday's 8-1 loss to Arizona. He redeemed himself with a much better outing in this game. He was busy all night and was up to the task, even though he didn't have a win to show for it.

6. Devils goaltender Vitek Vanecek made an incredible desperation save on Tyler Johnson in the first period that kept the game at 2-1 for New Jersey. I'm not sure I'd call it a save of the year candidate, but it was certainly a pretty one. If that puck goes in, it's a different game.

7. The Devils went into this game with the top-ranked power play in the NHL, converting at a 43.6 percent clip. They scored on their first opportunity of the game and finished 1-for-3. That power play is a buzzsaw right now.

8. The Blackhawks had a strong night at the dot. All four of Chicago's centers (Athanasiou, Bedard, Jason Dickinson and MacKenzie Entwistle) finished above 50 percent.

9. Alex Vlasic was cleared from concussion protocol and returned to the lineup for the first time since Oct. 27. He skated in the spot of Jarred Tinordi, who was a healthy scratch. Vlasic didn't look rusty at all. He led the team with six shots on goal.

10. Jack Hughes did not play after taking a scary-looking fall into the boards during Friday's game in St. Louis. His upper-body injury is reportedly not as serious as feared, which is great news for the Devils. The Devils are calling him week-to-week. Hughes led all NHL skaters with 20 points going into the weekend.

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