In between was an inconvenient Friday date in Canada's capital city, against a nonplayoff team. A nuisance game. The Blackhawks had no idea how big a nuisance the Ottawa Senators could be, as the visitors outshot Ottawa 49-29 but lost 5-3 after falling behind 3-0 quickly.
Captain Jonathan Toews insisted his Chicago team didn't take the Senators lightly.
"I don't think it's about who we played tonight. We had to be better than we were [Thursday]," Toews said. "I'd say at some moments we were, and at some moments we weren't. The end result in the last two games were not what we wanted.
"Regardless of opponent, if we take control of the game -- not to sound arrogant or anything like that -- I think we can control a game, find ways to win, regardless of who we play, if we want it bad enough."
With losses in three of their past four games, the Blackhawks missed another opportunity to close the gap in the Central Division. They're eight points behind St. Louis Blues and just a point ahead of the Colorado Avalanche.
At times, the Blackhawks dominated the Senators, especially during what coach Joel Quenneville called a "perfect" second period, with the shots 23-5 in favor of Chicago. By then, the Blackhawks closed to within a goal at 3-2 but gave up two more in the third.
"The goals they scored tonight, we were just way too easy on them," Toews said. "It's not one or two guys. It's throughout our whole lineup. Everybody seems to a part of the bad habits that are running contagiously through our lineup."
Toews said if he does have theories as to why the Blackhawks can't play a consistent 60-minute game, he wouldn't share them because "it just sounds like you're throwing out excuses.
"Better now than two or three weeks from now. That's the way we're going to look at it. We know how good a team we can be. We haven't shown it in the last couple of games. We're not going to make any excuses for why that is, but we have to address the small parts of our game that aren't going so well right now and are sneaking into our power play and different parts of our game.
"We'll address and get better at it and not let it snowball on us," Toews said.
"The time is now to play our best hockey. We're going to battle through this. It's not fun to play hockey when things aren't clicking for you, but once we do get on the same page, we'll be re-energized as a team."