"Light's out, uh huh. Flash, Flash Flash" - Peter Wolf.
Tomas Fleischmann scored his first ever NHL hat trick tonight as the Colorado Avalanche downed the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3. "Flash" is certainly off to a great start to his Avalanche career - he has 10 points in his first 7 games with the Avs, matching his point total for the 23 games spent earlier this season with the Capitals.
The first two periods of this game had a decided tilt towards the 'Hawks, as they outshot the Avalanche 30-12. I have to say that other than the first 5 minutes of the game that were ALL Chicago, I didn't think the game looked as lopsided as the shot totals indicated. And it wasn't lopsided at all where it mattered most: the score. After 40 minutes, the game was knotted up at 1. In the first period, Dan Winnik drew the attention of what appeared to be every Blackhawk on the ice, allowing Greg Mauldin to find a nice, open space to receive a pass that he promptly buried past goalie Carl Crawford. I absolutely adore Mauldin. He skates fast, works hard and has a deadly shot. I'm really rooting for him to keep a spot on the roster when the Avs start getting healthy again. In the 2nd, Chicago's Bryan Bickell (New Bohemians not pictured) rifled a ridiculous shot over the glove of Craig Anderson to tie the game.
The 3rd period is where all the action happened. The turning point came at the 2:40 mark of the 3rd when Winnik went into the corner and caught what appeared to be an errant elbow by Jordan Hedry. Winnik might want to think about going back to the face shield, because he seems to be taking a lot of shots to the face lately. It looked like the Avalanche caught a bit of a break on this play. Instead of an elbowing penalty, Hedry was called for a high stick and, since blood was drawn, it was a double minor.
And then it was Flash time. Fleischmann scored twice during Hedry's two penalties. First converting a beautiful centering pass from Paul Stastny and then being in the right place to bury a rebound into an open net (anyone else think of Milan Hejduk on that 2nd goal?). All of a sudden, the Avalanche had a 3-1 lead.
The Hawks cut the lead to 3-2 when Jonathan Toews pounced on a puck in the crease that had trickled through Anderson's pads, electrifying the United Center crowd of 21,000+. This would be the point in the game where the home team gets all the momentum and inevitably ties the game, but the Avalanche did a magnificent job staying in control. Chicago never really got things rolling and Fleischmann was able to ice the game about 5 minutes after Toews goal when David Jones outhustled Brian Campbell and Jason Cullimore to the puck to negate an icing call before feeding Flash the puck in front. Actually, I don't really think you can use "hustle" to describe what the Chicago defensemen were doing there, because either one of them should have gotten to that puck easily. Chicago would score a meaningless goal with just a second to go in the game, but it wouldn't be enough. The Avalanche won their 4th straight, clinched the season series against Chicago, became the first Western Conference team with 9 road wins.
There was one worrisome moment late in the game when Paul Stastny fell awkwardly into the boards and lay on the ice for some time before being helped off. Altitude's coverage on the hit was dreadful. The replay missed most of the hit, and the entire injury - potentially a pivotal one for the Avs - was quickly glossed over. About the only reaction we got was the sound of Peter McNab biting his tongue when the Altitude cameras caught Bickell - the guy who hit Stastny - making a Marc Crawfordlike smirk on the Hawks bench. Thankfully, Adrian Dater is reporting that Stastny is fine. Altitude's coverage of the incident was anything but.
- Fleischmann, Duchene, Jones
- Porter, Stastny, Yip
- Winnik, O'Reilly, Mauldin
- McLeod, Dupuis, Koci
- Liles, O'Byrne
- Wilson, Shattenkirk
- Hunwick, Foote
- Greg Mauldin led the Avalanche in shots (5) and hits (4)
- Fleischmann was a model of efficiency tonight; his 3 goals came on 3 shots.
- Duchene is now tied for the Avs' scoring lead with Paul Stastny
The Avs host the Ottawa Senators on Friday and will be shooting for 5 straight.