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Game 7: Blackhawks 5, Avalanche 3

Try as they might, the Avalanche cannot win on offense alone.  In the last two games they have erased multi-goal deficits, but while they were able to squeak by with a win the first time, the second time they couldn't pull it off.  They lost to the Chicago Blackhawks 5-3, despite scoring three goals to tie the game in the third period (box score).

The defense again looked fairly lost on the ice throughout the first period, which allowed the Blackhawks to score three quick goals.  The first was one of the prettiest goals I've ever seen, scored by 19 year-old Jonathan Toews.  Also lighting the lamp---for the first time in his NHL career---was Patrick Kane, the first pick overall in the 2007 Entry Draft.  

On a side note, the Altitude Sports man-crush marathon added both Toews and Kane to its illustrious roster, which is still currently headed by Dion Phaneuf.  I think somebody should get Mike Haynes and Peter McNab some lotion and a box of Kleenex.

But I digress.  The Avalanche did a little bit better in the second period, preventing any further 'Hawks goals while scoring one of their own courtesy of a hard-playing Wojtek Wolski.  He's looked sharp the last few games and is clearly putting in the extra effort expected of him by Avalanche fans.  

Just 40 seconds into the third period, another young Avalanche player who has been living up to the team's expectations, Marek Svatos, scored a great goal off a nice feed from Paul Stastny.  Son of Stastny now has 14 points in 7 games.

The comeback was complete when Ryan Smyth scored on a power play at 7:35 in the third with assists by Andrew Brunette and Joe Sakic.  But the team couldn't carry that momentum much farther, and defeat proved inevitable.

Late in the third, youngster Tuomo Ruutu beat Jose Theodore with a superb shot from the left point that went in the opposite side of the net.  Robert Lang followed shortly after with an empty-netter to seal the deal.

The Avalanche defense again started weak but tightened up as the game went along.  Svatos and Wolski played their asses off for the third or fourth game straight, and Ryan Smyth continued his net-crashing rampage he began against the Flames earlier in the week.  

The weak link was clearly Jose Theodore, who, unlike Peter Budaj in the Flames game, didn't give up fluke goals or get beat by his own teammates.  Theodore spent most of the night one to two seconds behind every play, and was way out of position on several big Chicago rushes.  He gave up three goals on ten shots in the first period. On the other end of the ice, Nikolai Khabibulin put on a goaltending clinic most of the game, allowing only one goal on 32 shots in the first two periods.  He finished with 37 saves on 40 shots.

Coach Q clearly made a mistake putting Theodore in goal, but I've already beaten that topic to death, so I'll let it go.  Let's just hope Budaj, who will no doubt start the next Avalanche game, hasn't been shaken too much off of his game by the hiatus.  

And the Avs better win a road game at some point this season.  

Stars of the Game:

  1. Patrick Kane (1g, 1a)
  1. Joe Sakic (0g, 2a)
  1. Patrick Sharp (1g, 2a)