Two teams riding 5 game winless streaks battled it out in Denver tonight as the road weary Blackhawks fell to the Colorado Avalanche, 5-2 at Pepsi Center. The Avs broke their 5 game losing streak along with a nasty goal scoring drought.
Lots of up and down play in a speedy first period. O'Brien had a quality chance walking in and talking a pass from Winnik from the goal line, but a Chicago defenseman got a stick on it to change direction. The Avs best chance came with about 7 seconds left in the period as Stastny and Kobasew broke in on a 2 on 1 but Kobasew's shot hit the outside of the net. If Kobasew is a legit top six guy, that shot goes in. In the end, neither squad could cash in on the fast paced play and the period ends knotted at 0, shots tied at 9, chances even at 3, and odd man rushes 3-0 in favor of the home team.
The scorelessness ended 30 seconds into the middle frame when the puck got lost in a crowd and popped out to Seabrook all alone on the outside. By the time everyone figured out where the puck was, it was too late. 1-0 Blackhawks. But the Avs answered with their 5th odd man rush of the night finally hit pay dirt as O'Reilly stole the puck and he and Mueller rushed up ice. O'Reilly faked the shot and then made a perfect pass over to Mueller who had his stick on the ice and directed the rubber disc home to tie the game at 1. Two actual top six forwards on an odd man rush = goal!
The tally sparked the Avs and just seconds later Hejduk stole the puck from Duncan Keith at the Blackhawks' blueline, creating a three on one. The Captain took his time before sending a pass into the slot where David Jones buried his 11th of the season. 2-1 Avs. Timeout Chicago. That's 3 goals scored in 4 minutes after a scoreless first period. Locker room pep talks? Orange Slices spiked with Human Growth Hormone? Who can tell.
Less than 3 minutes later, Patrick Kane continued the barrage of goals with a wicked backhander that somehow found a path past Giguere. Seriously, he may have been the only person in the building that could make that shot. I heard he sleeps with oven mitts on to protect those purdie hands. Game tied at 2. Toews almost gave the Hawks back the lead when he juked Quincey out of his pads and cut in front sending a backhander on net, but Giguere stayed with him and made the stop.
The Avs grabbed the lead just 38 seconds into the 3rd period on a big shot from Landeskog top shelf glove side as he entered the zone trailing Stastny. Avs on top 3-2. All 3 Colorado goals were scored off of Chicago turnovers. It's nice to be on the other side of that equation for once. The Avs got caught on a bad miss match with their 4th line out against the Hawks top line (PSSST. Sacco, you have the last change dude. And you can totally use it. For real), resulting in a Blackhawk's powerplay, but the Avs killed it off allowing no shots in the process.
Shortly after the Avs killed off another Chicago powerplay, David Jones flashed images of his old self as he flew up the ice on the right side and beat Emery with a wicked wrister to make it 4-2. That is vintage (has he been around long enough for us to say that?) Jonesy. Hopefully 3 goals in the past two games snaps the good doctor out of his funk. Our boys would go on to score an empty netter as Quincey banked one off the boards that had enough on it to travel all the way into the Blackhawks' vacated net. Coach Q perhaps pulled Emery a tad early with over 2 minutes to go and it sealed the win for the Avs.
The Avs skated hard tonight and really out worked the Blackhawks. The visitors also helped out by supplying a bevy of turnovers and odd man rushes to help the Avs break out of their losing streak, but the Avs were the better team tonight and crawled within a point of 8th place Minnesota.
MHH Bestest Three Avs of the Night
- Jones, 2 goals
- Landeskog, GW Goal, all around badass
- Giguere and The Penalty Killers, 3 for 3 and aggressive all night
- Landeskog - O'Reilly - Mueller
- Winnik - Stastny - Hejduk (Winnink and Jones changed places in the game)
- Galiardi - McClement - Jones
- McLeod - van der Gulik - Kobasew
- Johnson - Quincey
- Hejda - O'Byrne
- Barrie - O'Brien
- Scratches: Hunwick, Wilson, Porter
- Happy 21st Birthday Ryan O'Reilly!
- Barrie played well in his debut. Miniscule sample size, but he seems like a more complete player then Stefan Elliot.
- Paul Stastny had 2 assists in the game (11 points in his last 10 games), but looked like he may have sustained an injury late in the third. Not sure I saw him on the ice after that....
NHL.com Recap & Highlights
The Carolina Hurricanes blow into Denver on Friday, February 10th, for a 7pm puck drop between the league's top two natural disasters.