After at first functioning admirably without their top defenseman, the absence of Duncan Keith seems to be catching up with the Chicago Blackhawks.
They're still weeks away from getting him back from a torn meniscus, so they'll need to seek out a different solution beginning Friday night in New Jersey as they prepare to face the Devils twice in the next seven days with another top player having been cleared from an off-ice investigation.
Five first-period goals weren't enough for Chicago (7-5-1) in Wednesday's 6-5 home overtime loss to St. Louis, and the Blackhawks have given up 16 goals over a 1-2-1 span after winning their first three without Keith with two goals allowed.
"We had a good first period," coach Joel Quenneville told the team's official website. "Everything went in the net both ways for 40 minutes. I still think we look at the chances at the end of the game, it was probably a normal chance game. But the pucks were definitely going in tonight."
Patrick Kane, who won't face charges after prosecutors dropped a three-month rape investigation Thursday due to a lack of credible evidence, continued to produce with a goal and an assist for a second straight game on an eight-game point streak. His 18 points are among the league leaders, but he's been limited to a goal in 10 career matchups against New Jersey (6-5-1).
Brent Seabrook, Andrew Shaw and Teuvo Teravainen also had a goal and an assist, giving Seabrook 10 points on a seven-game streak - he has nine points in his last six against the Devils. The 21-year-old Teravainen has goals in consecutive games for the first time in his career.
They also got one from Marko Dano in his second game with the club after being acquired in a June 30 trade that sent Brandon Saad to Columbus.
"We got off to the start we wanted, and it's a good lesson to learn, I think, early in the season," goaltender Corey Crawford said. "Can't let that happen, especially against a good team. We gave them too many goals and let them back in the game. There were still some chances to win that game, but we'll learn from this one."
Crawford had been on a personal high prior to allowing six goals on 29 shots, posting a 1.34 goals-against average and .952 save percentage over a preceding 5-1-0 span.
Chicago has won four straight in this series, sweeping the last two seasons and averaging 3.11 goals over a 7-1-1 span. Crawford has had limited action against New Jersey but is 1-0-1 with a 0.96 GAA and .958 save percentage.
The Blackhawks also have a four-game road losing streak to contend with, on which they've been outscored 15-6.
The Devils, who have gone 6-2-0 in their last eight, are opening a three-game homestand after falling 2-1 to the New York Islanders on Tuesday. Travis Zajac tied it early in the third period with his third goal in as many games, giving him all eight of his points in the last seven.
"We played pretty well, we created some chances but ... have to find a way to get another one," Zajac said.
Cory Schneider hasn't required much support lately, posting a 1.63 GAA and .943 save percentage over a 2-1-0 span. He's 1-2-0 with a 2.68 GAA against the Blackhawks.
Chicago's Marian Hossa has missed two games with a lower-body injury, while New Jersey's Jiri Tlusty has sat out the last two with an upper-body injury.