Photo by David Zalubowski (AP)
Well, that wasn't awesome.
The Avalanche started out strong against the Blackhawks, skated hard and generated all sorts of chances in the first period. The line of Ian Laperriere, Cody McLeod and Chris Stewart were all over the 'Hawks in the first period and scored 2 goals (giving that line 5 goals in the last 2 games).
Unfortunately, the team started losing steam after taking a 2-1 lead to the first intermission. The Avs had 13 shots after 20 minutes, but then managed just 9 the rest of the way. Dustin Bufyglien tied it in the 2nd period on a breakaway goal that probably should have been stopped by Peter Budaj. Wojtek Wolski returned the favor in the 3rd, making a gorgeous play to split two Chicago defensemen (both of whom completely stopped after Dubya was by them) before beating Nikolai Khabibulin to give the Avs a 3-2 lead. It didn't last. Andrew Ladd tied it about 6 minutes later, and then Bufyglien scored the winner at the 13:51 mark, just moments after Jordan Leopold emerged from the penalty box.
The Avs didn't play particularly badly - Wolski and Laperriere had fine games, and John-Michael Liles had his best game in weeks. But in the end, the Blackhawks were just too much for the Avalanche - they just seemed to wear the Avs down. With games against Detroit and Philadelphia coming up, that may be a continuing theme...
- Philippe Dupuis made his NHL debut and centered the 4th line (moving TJ Hensick to the left wing). I thought he played okay and I thought he had a couple of hits that didn't seem to make it onto the scoresheet.
- The Avs won the faceoff battle for the first time in 6 games. That's not too surprising - the Blackhawks are one of just 9 teams with a lower faceoff percentage this year.
- The Avalanche fell to 2-4 against the Central division, and have been outscored 18-13 in those 6 games. That stat figures to get worse on Monday...
- The Avs wore their road whites, apparently to give the Blackhawks a chance to wear their 3rd jerseys. Why?