It was hard to tell which of the teams taking the United Center ice Sunday was the one with the worst record in the NHL and a goaltender making his first career start.
The New York Islanders and netminder Peter Mannino fit the description but didn't play like it as they handed the Blackhawks a 4-2 defeat in front of a crowd of 22,140.
It was the Hawks who looked like a team without a clue as they lost for the fourth time in five games and seventh in their last 10. The free-falling Hawks dropped their second consecutive game and finished their four-game homestand with a 1-3 mark.
Mark Streit had two goals and an assist and Richard Park added a goal and an assist as the Islanders won despite playing the second of back-to-back games after losing Saturday in Boston.
"We have to get better right now," said Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook, who was on the ice for every Islanders goal. "We have to nip this in the bud. We're just really going to make it tough on ourselves if we don't start coming to play."
It was the Islanders, who came in with just seven victories on the road, who came to play. After Streit opened the scoring midway through the second period and the Hawks' Kris Versteeg tied it just over three minutes later, New York reeled off three consecutive goals and then rode the back of Mannino, who made 40 saves to capture the first victory of his career.
"We're having a hard time," said Hawks winger Dustin Byfuglien, who had an assist on Versteeg's score off a goalmouth scramble. "We're not playing our systems, [and] we're not playing our game plan. We all have to go back and see what made us successful earlier in the season and get back to things before it's too late."
New York scored three power-play goals against Hawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, who was making his first start since Feb. 11 after suffering a lower-body injury. Besides Versteeg's 20th goal, the Hawks got only a power-play goal from Patrick Kane with less than two minutes to go.
"It's a great feeling to come into Chicago and steal a game away from them," Mannino said. "Chicago is a very talented team with great offensive players. It helped that I faced a lot of shots, which took my nervousness away. My teammates gave me some great looks on a lot of the shots."
Mannino was tested often as the Hawks sent 42 shots his way, but the rookie came up big on a partial breakaway by Kane midway through the first period and thwarted an excellent short-handed attempt by Duncan Keith in the second.
"He played well and made some big saves," Seabrook said. "In the second period we had a couple of breakaways and a two-on-one, and he did a great job of keeping them in it."
Kane's 23rd goal of the season came while the Hawks had a man advantage and Khabibulin on the bench for an extra attacker.
The second-year winger scored off a scramble after a Cam Barker shot. It brought the Hawks to within 4-2, but it was too little, too late.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun