Kyle Calder got them the game's first goal in the first period, and they had a two-goal lead going into the final minute of the second period thanks to power-play goals by Bryan Berard and Brett McLean.
But then they lost their momentum, and ultimately they lost the game to the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3.
Coach Brian Sutter didn't like what he saw and he was disappointed because he didn't see a sense of urgency from his young team when it was in command.
"You have to be mentally prepared and mentally strong," Sutter said. "You talk about urgency. You have to learn to play in those situations."
With Matt Keith watching from the penalty box, David Vyborny instigated the Columbus counterattack by scoring on the power play to cut the Hawks lead to 3-2 with 54 seconds left in the second period.
Geoff Sanderson came out of the penalty box to best rookie goalie Michael Leighton on a breakaway to tie the score midway through the final period.
Then, with 2 minutes 51 seconds to play and Rick Nash screening Leighton, Luke Richardson scored the winning goal on a shot from a stride inside the blue line.
"They scored the third goal and it was like nobody knew he was coming," Sutter said. "It wasn't just our defensemen; he went past two of our forwards. The last one was an innocent shot from the point. You have to get in the way of it some way."
The Blue Jackets' come-from-behind triumph avenged a Hawks' victory by the same score Wednesday in Columbus, enabled them to win the season series four games to two and opened a window of opportunity to escape from the Central Division cellar. Both they and the Hawks have 48 points.
Bits: Right wing Keith and defenseman Johnathan Aitken each got his first NHL assist and point on Calder's goal. The first Columbus goal 80 seconds into the second period was the first goal of Troy Jackman's NHL career.
Left wing Eric Daze, who has more career goals and points than any other Hawk, hopes to return to action March 7 vs. Edmonton after missing the last 60 games because of back surgery to repair a herniated disc. "I've been working really hard," Daze said. "I'm still confident I can play the last 15 games and I want to play another six, seven years." While Daze is making progress, goalie Jocelyn Thibault is regressing in his comeback attempt after Nov. 15 hip surgery. Thibault started practicing Feb. 9, but his hip became inflamed and he had to stop. "We're getting a bit concerned," general manager Bob Pulford said. "He's coming along slowly. He has worked so hard trying to get better, and it's not coming as fast as he'd like it."