A smile crept across Joel Quenneville’s face when asked about the importance of the Blackhawks playing hard during their last game before Christmas break.

Quenneville knew the Hawks didn’t have the best track record in recent seasons playing games before extended breaks.

“That’s always the challenge,” the coach said. “You don’t want to be on a break too early.”

But evidently the Hawks already had visions of sugarplums, partridges in pear trees and all the other Christmas trappings in a 4-1 debacle against the Devils at the Prudential Center on the night Patrick Kane scored his 300th career goal.

“It’s a cool number to get to,” Kane said. “But it would’ve been nice to get it in a win, obviously.”

It was obvious the Hawks just didn’t have it from the start.