The offensively potent (or defensively challenged?) teams traded goals back and forth 3 times during a very busy first period. Brandon Yip got the welcome home party started after receiving a pass from behind the net by Kevin Porter and depositing it far side. Red hot Paul Stastny kicked the play off by man-handling a Chicago forward at the Hawks blue line and taking the puck back into the offensive zone. 1-0 forty-eight seconds in. But the defending champs answered back on a powerplay goal with Shattenkirk in the box for cross-checking at 5:28. Moments later, the Avs' relentless forecheck forced a turnover in the Hawk's zone and Yip found Stastny who moved in and powered a wrister through Turco. Avs back on top 2-1.
The scoring slowed down in the middle of the frame, but the play did not. Up and down action with plenty of chances. Chicago evened things up again when Jack Skille knocked home a Toews rebound. Foote lost his stick on the play. McLeod did not lose his stick however and retook the lead thirty-two seconds later with his third of the year. Dupuis made a perfect pass from behind the net (see a theme here?) and found McLeod who flew straight down the slot and pounded it home. The Avs did not have long to enjoy their 3rd lead of the game though, because Bickell deflected the puck in with 1:43 to play. Andy took a HARD shot from Bickell earlier on the play and it appeared to stun him, but the unlucky (yeah, I said it) deflection would have beaten him either way. Knotted up for the third time, 3-3.
Two of the game's biggest heavy weights, David Koci (6'6" 238 lbs) and John Scott (6'8" 260 lbs), tried to kill each other with 1:42 left in the first. They both failed. Koci landed a couple of good rights, but Scott skates away with that one. He had Koci's jersey over his head by the end. Sad.
The second period started where the first left off, with the Avs taking their 4th lead of the game off some more hard work. Mauldin made three dogged plays on an aggressive forecheck to steal the puck and get it to Duchene, who threw a spin-o-rama shot on net that laid in the crease before Sharp put it in his own net with Winnik bearing down on him. That prompted The Mustache to pull Turco in favor of rookie Corey Crawford. 4-3 Colorado. The move paid early dividends as the scoring took a temporary detour. The Avs continued to press despite things quieting down and had some great chances: Dupuis shorthanded, Porter all alone in the slot, a puck possession filled powerplay; but they couldn't beat Crawford (who was 7-0-1 in his last 8 decisions). However, the Hawks found a way to beat Anderson with 50 seconds left in the period, between his pads, on a shot from the outside that Andy saw the whole way. He simply got beat. And it's tied for the 4th time. 4-4.
About 12 minutes into a more conservative third period, the Blackhawks earned(?) their first lead of the game on Brouwer's second goal (he was originally credited with Bickell's goal, otherwise that would have been the hat trick). The questionably high tip-in powerplay goal suffered a lengthy review, but held up. It was close, but tie should go to the runner on goals I say (although in this case, I wouldn't have have spilled my milk if the call went the other way).
The Avs realized that being behind is for sucks, and so Fleischmann took over. First, he potted his 6th of the year after a botched toe drag turned into a seeing-eye wrister and found it's way to the back of the net, with Duchene driving hard in front. A minute later, Flash stole the puck behind the net, skated to the corner, and then found Duchene charging to the front (yet again) for the go-ahead redirection goal. Duchene smooched Fleischmann on the helmet back on the bench as a thank you. It was a heartfelt moment.....
Chicago pulled Crawford with 22 seconds left and O'Reilly backhanded the puck home from center ice to seal the win. 7-5 Avalanche. Great team win. 6 different goal scorers. It looked like the Avs were going to suffer a bitter loss after the Blackhawks took the lead, but Fleischmann, new guy in town - in his first home game in Denver - scored 3 points in the final 2 and a half minutes to help turn bitter to sweet.
- Stastny was EVERYWHERE in the first. Dominating performance. (6 points in the last two games and tied for team lead with 31).
- Both teams were missing some big guns, but still managed a ton of offense. Avalanche: Stewart, Hejduk, Galiardi. Chicago: Kane, Hossa.
- Turco allows 4 goals and gets no decision. Crawford allowed 2 goals, gets the loss. Tis the life of a back up.
- General observation of late: This young Avs team is TENACIOUS. Very fun to watch (when they're not blacked out). It seems like it's the third and fourth efforts that pay off and surprise the opposition. Their opponents often seemed shocked that the Avs player is still in pursuit. I dig Sacco's style.
The Avs and Hawks finish off the home and home series Wednesday in Chicago, 6:30pm MST.