The game started off with play that went from one end of the ice to the other like windshield wipers. Then, as seems to be the trend lately, the Avalanche took an early penalty with newly recalled Brad Malone cited for boarding. Fortunately, the Avs were able to kill it off, but not before the Blackhawks got a slew of shots on net. If not for some ninja spider play by Semyon Varlamov, the Hawks would have surely gotten on the board.
You could feel the ice tilting Colorado's way when a couple of bounces gave the defense control, thwarting multiple entry attempts by Chicago. The Avs transitioned to offense as Jan Hejda sent the the puck up the boards to clear the zone. The puck cruised through center ice and, with icing waived off, bounced to Brent Seabrook. Trying to clear it to the other side of the net, he bounced it off the back boards, and it landed right in the slot in front of Paul Stastny. Pauly scooped it up and sent a wrister home, putting the Avalanche up 1-0. The energy in the building and on the ice skyrocketed, and the Avs got some good looks on net, especially those generated by Nate MacKinnon's blistering speed and aggressive forechecking by the third line.
Unlike the previous three games, the Avs were making crisp passes, winning the battles along the boards, and clearing the rebounds from the crease.
MacKinnon's line was flying, forcing the Hawks to their heals. Ryan O`Reilly deflected a clearing attempt out to Andre Benoit, who was pinching in on the play. Benoit threw a one-timer on net, and Landy tipped it past Corey Crawford.
56 seconds later, Max Talbot grabbed the puck from behind the net and dished it out to John Mitchell who was hanging just outside the crease. Johnny put the Avs up 3-0 with a flick of the wrist. Tyson Barrie got the other assist on the play. (#TysonBarrieIsFree)
Over six minutes were left in the first, and the Avs forced a goalie change for Chicago. Speed and confidence returned to the Pepsi Center, and the Avalanche dominated play for the remainder of the period.
After one period the shots on goal were 17 to 8 Colorado, hits were similarly one-sided in the Avs' favor. Face offs, however, continued to be dismal for the boys in frostbite blue.
The second period began much the same way as the first with play going each way. However, errors by even the top lines of Chicago created some odd man rushes for the Avs, including a three-on-one. Had it not been for a beauty of a save by Antti Raanta, it would have been 4-0.
On a two-on-one for the Hawks, Hejda got back into the play just in time to break up the scoring chance. Heads up play by the Czech.
Play stepped up for Chicago, and the team began peppering Varly with shots. Fortunately, #1 was in the groove and seeing the puck well. The Let's Go Hawks chants started, but for the first time in what seems like years, the Avs faithful were able to drown it out enough that Let's Go Avs was all that you could hear.
The period was all Chicago until PA Parenteau flew into the offensive zone and, rather than passing the puck, he took the shot and zipped a wrister past Raanta to put the good guys up 4-0.
Not a single penalty was called all period, giving the game a playoff feel.
Less than two minutes into the final frame, Cody McLeod decided scoring looked like fun. His goal started with Mitchell speeding in through the neutral zone and sliding a pass to Talbot. Talbot popped it back to Barrie. Barrie's bomb on net sent a juicy rebound right out to McLeod who tapped it into an open net to put the Avs on top 5-0
(Hejda just demolished Ben Smith as he tried to go to the net, and Hawks fans in the audience wanted a penalty. So cute.)
The second power play of the game went to the Avs as Niklas Hjalmarsson was called for tripping at 12:02. The best opportunities during the two minutes came off of Tyson Barrie's stick. Barrie let bomb after bomb fly, but despite being right on target, he didn't get to add to his two assists on the night.
The kill gave Chicago some intensity, but Varly continued to say, "NYET" until a fortuitous bounce placed a rebound perfectly for Brandon Saad to back hand it five hole, ending the Avs' shut out bid.
The goal sparked a flurry of action by the Hawks, making the Avs look quite outmatched. Fans thought the bad guys got their second, but the puck pinged off the pipes to keep the score 5-1.
(Guenin smooshed another Hawk and, again, Chicago fans were crying for a penalty. To be fair, it was the same fans as before. Still, it was silly.)
The rest of the game was characterized by the Avs shutting down the Hawks, killing their speed and passing. With 30 seconds left, the Varly chants began once again.
MHH Three Stars
1. Semyon Varlamov - The Blackhawks threw everything at the Russian, including the kitchen sink, and he did his best Gandalf impression, telling those dirty little pucks, "You shall not pass!"
2. Paul Stastny - One goal, one assist and general awesomeness.
3. Tyson Barrie - In his first game back, he made the most of the opportunity, impressing in all areas of the ice and netting two assists. (Welcome back, Tyson!)
Honorable Mention: the rest of the team. Seriously, this was a group effort, and no one had a bad game. Stick tap to Jan Hejda, though, for being a genuine BAD ASS all night.
- First time in the season in which the Avs had three or more goals in the first period.
- The Pepsi Center was sold out, and the ratio of Avs burgundy to Blackhawk red was significantly better than years past.
- Scary thought: Nathan MacKinnon already has 12 points in 20 games (.60 PPG), yet he's shooting at an absolutely unsustainable 5.5%. What are the kid's numbers going to look like when he starts scoring the way we know he can?
- Nick Holden had a team-leading 6 hits on the night.
- Belying the score, the Hawks were in possession of the puck often, getting a whopping 37 shots on net.
- The Avs are 13-0 when scoring first.
The Avs head to the desert to take on the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday.