For the second game in a row the Avs won the opening face-off and quickly made the confident, offensively puck-possession minded play known as: icing. Would this daring and inventive play foreshadow the night as it did on Saturday when the Avs rolled over and lost to Minnesota 6-4? Pretty much, yeah.
The Blackhawks made it 1-0 off a harmless looking dump in about 4 minutes in. Hejda got to the puck, but rather than pass behind the net to his D partner or simply fling the puck hard around the boards, he chose to blindly bounce the puck off the end boards right to Patrick Kane. Mistake. With every member of the Avalanche out of position save Varlamov, Kane used his slick hands to feed Jimmy Hayes all alone right in front of the hung-out-to-dry Colorado netminder. Hayes backhanded the puck up and over Varly for his first goal of the year in his third game.
Less than a minute later, Johnson ignored
trying to keep the puck in the offensive zone all sane thought and went well out of position to make a hit, which sprung a 2-on-1 the other way (Does Zanon really count as a "1" though??). The Hawks would finish the odd-man rush to go up 2-0. That's 2 goals on 3 shots in less than 5 minutes.
Parenteau set up McLeod with a pretty opportunity right in front off a turnover, but a diving Chicago player tipped the puck to help it hop over McLeod's stick [Observation: When the Hawks make a mistake, a teammate bails them out. When the Avs make a mistake, the opposition scores. But hey, I'm sure Sacco liked the Avs' jump to start the game.]
With under 2 minutes to go, Parenteau unleashed a long one-timer on an open net, but a sliding Hjalmarsson got over to block the shot and keep the Avs scoreless. That block sprung play the other way and Kane drew a penalty on Zanon who had his mind erased by Kane's stick-handling. Little did Kane know, that was Zanon's plan all along! On the ensuing penalty kill, the duel speed of Matt Duchene and Gabe Landeskog created a shorthanded rush up ice where Landy lit both Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith on fire as he powered his way to the Avs' first shorthanded tally of the season. Beauty goal at an important moment. Thanks Captain! [Drawing comparisons: Chicago Captain Jonathan Towes scored a similar shorty vs the Avs the first go round]. Period ends with the Avs still on the PK, but down just 2-1 on the back of their spry cap'n.
But Patrick Kane scored with 12:11 to go in the middle frame (from basically no angle) on a rebound after Toews charged the net. The Blackhawks captain ran into Varlamov, gently helping the Russian to the ice and leaving a gaping net for Kane to shoot at. Avs could argue that Varly was knocked out of position by Toews (which he was), but Blackhawks could argue Johnson pushed Toews (which he did) . Since we here at MHH are impartial, we'll objectively determine that Toews is a dick and should have been suspended for leading with his knee and initiating contact with Varlamov's knoggin'. [note to Toews: Jonathan, drop the act and come play for the team you grew up adoring. Enough already.].
Marian Hossa left the game in the first after a hard hit by O`Byrne and was replaced on the Blackhawks' top line by Patrick Kane. With about 5 minutes to go in the 2nd, Chicago's new top line put on a clinic in the Avs' zone with Kane eventually feeding Seabrook fading along the top of the circle for a one-timed blast that found twine. 4-1 Blackhawks.
Seconds after a late period Avalanche powerplay ran out, Milan Hejduk stickhandled out from behind his own net and through the nuetral zone before dishing to Mitchell. Three Blackhawk players collapsed on Mitchell as he entered the zone so he fed the puck back over to Hejduk who went vintage Milan and picked his spot to get the Avs back in the game 2-4. Varlamov got an assist on the goal.
To kick off the third, Patrick Kane shot out on a breakaway, but Varlamov stayed with him and got a glove on #88's bid. Great save.
Peter McNab would climax over the Blackhawks 5th goal, another beauty, this one off the stick of Jonathan Toews on the rush. Perfect shot, top corner. 5-2 Blackhawks, and that would be your final score.
The Avs were only ever in this game after Landeskog's goal that made it 2-1. The disparity between the confidence of the Blackhawks and Avalanche was glaringly painful to watch. The Avs don't trust each other and aren't having much fun right now, and it shows in their on-ice product. That sound you hear is the engine on that Tank warming up.
MHH Stick Taps
- Semyon Varlamov, his numbers weren't pretty, but he was hung out to dry more times than not, and he was feisty all game taking swipes at Blackhawk players, tossing the puck into the corners after saves, and making some brilliantly amazing saves. He also had an assist.
- Gabe Landeskog - that shorty was gorgeous
- Milan Hejduk - some vintage stick work and goal.
- McGinn - Duchene - Parenteau
- Landeskog - O'Reilly - Palushaj
- Mitchell - Stastny - Hejduk
- McLeod - Kobasew - Jones
- Johnson - Zanon
- O`Byrne - Hunwick
- O`Brien - Hejda
- McLeod took a puck to the face in the second and stayed on the ice for awhile, but of course later returned - he's McLeod.
- Altitude colorguy Peter McNab said (and I paraphrase) that because of the shortened season, teams don't get as much practice time, so pure talent decides a game's final outcome more than a game plan necessarily might. That's either a defense of Sacco, or an indictment of management, but it's pretty clear how McNab sees the Avs talent level.
The Avalanche square off against the Dallas Stars for a home-and-home series starting Wednesday night in Denver.