CHICAGO -- Cam Atkinson's second NHL hat trick helped the Columbus Blue Jackets defeat the Blackhawks 5-2 at United Center on Friday, extending their winning streak to five games and road winning streak to seven.
"We just have to put our heads up and these things, we have to shake it off," Chicago right wing Marian Hossa said. "There's still lots of hockey in front of us. Stay positive and turn the page and just learn from our mistakes, because it's getting [to be] too many of those mistakes. We just have to learn from it and get better, especially tighter defensively."
The Blackhawks defense struggled in the first period and it ultimately cost them the game. Multiple turnovers led to good scoring chances, and Columbus scored on four of them, including two by Atkinson.
He scored his first at 9:24 to give Columbus a 2-1 lead and his second off a shorthanded breakaway at 15:46 to give the Blue Jackets a 4-2 lead. Center Ryan Johansen and defenseman Kevin Connauton scored the other goals in the first against Corey Crawford, who was replaced by Scott Darling after Atkinson's second goal.
The Blackhawks went 0-for-5 on power plays.
"We had more chances in that first period than we had in a long time in any game, but the quality [chances] against were self-generated," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "I think we gave them the first three goals, and the fourth one was the icing on the cake. Tough to come back after that one."
"We want to get the momentum going into the summer and start strong next year," said Atkinson, who scored into an empty net at 19:01 of the third for the hat trick. "It's definitely been a tough season. Everyone keeps bringing [injuries] up, and you can say it’s an excuse, but when you have the majority of your top guys out, it makes a big difference."
The hat trick was the second for the Blue Jackets in as many games, after forward Scott Hartnell had one against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday. It's the first time Columbus had back-to-back hat tricks in its history.
"It's great," Atkinson said. "A lot of people say it's hard to get motivated, especially if you're not going to make the playoffs, but we're playing for pride, playing for each other, and playing for our fans back in Columbus. I think they deserve it the most."
Columbus swept the two-game season series and ended a six-game losing streak in Chicago that dated to Feb. 18, 2011. The Blue Jackets (35-35-4) are .500 for the first time since Jan. 9.
The Blackhawks scored to make it 1-0 at 3:26 of the first period on Saad's 22nd goal but quickly lost the momentum. It was the first of six goals in the period.
Johansen scored on a breakaway to tie it 1-1.
Chicago defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook were reunited as a pair for the first time since they were split up Jan. 20 against the Arizona Coyotes, but it didn't last long. They were on the ice for the first two Columbus goals before being split up again before the period ended. Keith finished minus-3 rating and Seabrook was minus-4.
Connauton made it 3-2 with a shot from the left point at 13:03. Atkinson scored his second with a backhand-forehand deke.
Crawford has allowed four goals in the three most recent losses, which were in games the Blackhawks were outplayed by teams not in contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"I don't have a formula on that, on why, but we know it doesn't matter who we face … we have to be better," Hossa said. "We had lots of good stretches, but when we had bad ones, it's like it’s costing us a game because they end up in our net."