Chicago Blackhawks bow to Colorado Avalanche 5-1

After the Blackhawks had lost Sunday to the team with the fewest points in the Western Conference, coach Joel Quenneville said, "You could use some really bad adjectives to describe our play."

A few spring to mind: Terrible. Atrocious. Dreadful.

Let's stick with just plain bad.

The Hawks suffered their worst home loss of the season in a 5-1 defeat to the Colorado Avalanche at the United Center. The loss was the Hawks' second in two days and fifth in seven games. To make matters worse, they lost winger Martin Havlat to an injury.

Former Hawk Tyler Arnason had three assists, and five different players scored for Colorado, which entered the game on a six-game skid.

"All aspects of our game were off," Quenneville said. "I'm talking about every single area. It hasn't been consistent with the way we've played recently, so this was a curveball. We're not pleased, and we're not happy."

Many in the sellout crowd of 22,121 weren't happy either. They voiced their displeasure with boos when the Avalanche reeled off three consecutive goals after Jonathan Toews had brought the Hawks within a goal early in the second period.

"Obviously, we weren't ready to go right off the top — completely not good enough," Hawks center Colin Fraser said. "We have to get back to basics and simplify our game.

"It seems like we get down one or two and we just start trying to do too much. It doesn't work. You have to stick with the system. It starts with hard work right off the hop. It's hard to come from behind all the time."

The Hawks were down 2-0 after one period on Avalanche goals by Ben Guite and Chris Stewart before Toews scored his 11th goal in the last 11 games.

After that it was all Colorado. Milan Hejduk and Marek Svatos scored late in the second and Ryan Smyth in the third. The goals came against backup goaltender Antti Niemi, who made 24 saves.

"Being the first team to really wake up out there this afternoon helped us build momentum and take early control of the game," Smyth said. "Since we are not technically mathematically eliminated, the two points on the road are really huge for us."

The Hawks' seemingly secure hold on fourth place in the West, which would mean home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, is now in peril. The Vancouver Canucks have cut the deficit to five points with 18 games left for both teams.

"We have to take a lot of lessons from this," Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "We're in a fight now. A playoff race. We have to get refocused and ready to come out with better starts and better efforts right throughout the game for a full 60 [minutes]."

Havlat, who hasn't missed a game this season, left in the second period and didn't return.

"He's got a lower-body injury," Quenneville said. "Hopefully it's not serious. We'll have a better idea when we skate on Tuesday."