CHICAGO - For the first time all season, the Islanders have lost four straight games. And they looked bad doing so.
Their 4-1 loss to the Blackhawks Tuesday night was all but assured when the Islanders registered just one shot on net during a five-minute power play early in the second period after Chicago's Andrew Shaw head-butted Brock Nelson and was ejected.
The Islanders were down 2-0 when they went on that major power play. Not only didn't they put any sort of pressure on Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford, the end of the major seemed to energize the hosts. Marian Hossa scored on a feed from Jonathan Toews 3:25 after the end of the power play for a 3-0 Isles deficit.
Toews had both goals in a first period that had some of the sloppier play from the Islanders in recent weeks. Michal Neuvirth, getting the start in goal with Jaroslav Halak nursing an injury back on Long Island, had to stop Patrick Sharp on a deflection after John Tavares gave the puck away behind the Isles net barely a minute in.
Another giveaway by Tavares led to Toews' no-angle shot that ticked off Calvin de Haan and past Neuvirth at 7:01 to open the scoring. At 16:04, Toews raced through the Islanders defense and backhanded a shot off Neuvirth's shoulder and in, again with Tavares' line on the ice.
Hossa scored again 57 seconds into the third, with a pass from Sharp going off Hossa's skate and in. Tavares was on the ice for all four Chicago goals.
Nikolay Kulemin, who took a puck to the face earlier in the game, scored the lone Isles goal in the third, giving them a single goal in each of the four consecutive defeats. The power play is 1-for-14 in the four games, with the five-minute major counting as one missed opportunity.
The Islanders held onto their two-point lead over the Penguins for second place in the Metro Division, but the Isles are now just seven points clear of the Bruins, who own the last wild-card playoff spot. Every team in the East has played fewer than the Isles' 72 games.