As usual when these teams meet, the Blackhawks came out flying in this game and pushed the pace hard in the Avs' zone. Varlamov staved off a few good shots early, but the Avs couldn't find any offensive pushback. 4 minutes into the game had a near disaster when Nick Holden made a terrible pinch to send Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane on a 2-0 breakaway. Jarome Iginla chased down the pair and slowed up the cross-ice pass, but the break seemed to set the Hawks on fire. For the next 4 minutes Chicago dominated the Avalanche in their own zone and created a number of scoring chances, but struggled to convert them to actual shots on goal. 6:30 into the game the Avalanche got their first shot on goal (the Hawks had 2) when the Ryan O`Reilly line had a strong shift in the offensive zone.
With 11:15 left in the period Alex Tanguay made an excellent stick check to steal the puck from Duncan Keith at the Avs blue line and send the Avs on a 2-on-1. Tanguay tried to pass the puck across to Dennis Everberg as the two bared down on Crawford, but the pass was behind Everberg and caught him in the skates. Everberg couldn't get much of a shot away. The game opened up significantly over the next several minutes with both sides completing a number of odd man rushes.
With 7 minutes left in the period, the Avs biggest Blackhawk's killer struck first. The play started with Paul Carey making a nice play to keep the puck in the zone and lob it forward to Cody McLeod near the Hawks net. McLeod was unable to bury the puck in close, but when the puck squirted free to the high slot, Tyson Barrie took a hard wrister and beat Crawford top shelf. The goal lit up the Avalanche offense, who started to tilt the ice further back in their favor, including a good shift down low from Matt Duchene.
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With 4 minutes left the Avalanche had their best non-scoring scoring chance of the period as Ryan O'Reilly stole the puck from Nicklas Hjarlmarsson on the forecheck and fed Gabe Landeskog alone in front. Crawford reacted well to stop Landeskog down low, then kept a good pad seal on the opposite side of the net as MacKinnon dug for a rebound moments later.
A minute later Tyson Barrie built on his strong first period by saving a goal in his own end. The Hawks dished a pass across to a wide open Kane, and before Varlamov could slide across his net, Tyson Barrie tied up the Hawks forward and dropped to the ice to separate him from the puck and prevent a sure goal. Varlamov made one last strong save on Patrick Sharp driving the crease at 14.8 seconds remaining in the period to keep the Avs at a draw.
The second period looked a lot like the first period, with high speed back and forth play and quality chances for both teams. The Blackhawks earned a power play early in the period off a John Mitchell trip, but failed to convert. Play evened out over the course of the period, but the Hawks did tie the game halfway through the period off a bizarre bounce behind the Avs net. Michael Roszival fired the puck in from the point, which took a strange bounce off the end boards and the back of the Avs net straight to Brad Richards. Richards popped the puck out to Kris Versteeg, who shot past an unsuspecting Varlamov. Varly had completely lost the puck off Roszival's initial shot and had no idea the goal had been scored.
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With 5:00 left Gabe Landeskog snuck in behind the Hawks defense with a great pass from Nathan MacKinnon and went forehand-backhand on Corey Crawford. Landeskog had his stick slashed in half from behind by Hjarlmarsson. The slash denied an almost sure goal as Landeskog had already beaten Crawford to the far post when his stick broke in two and the puck slipped wide. Landeskog made his case with the officials for a penalty shot, but the Avalanche were given their first power play of the night instead.
In the final 2:00 of the period, Gabe Landeskog and Marian Hossa got into a scrum off the faceoff and they both went to the box. At 4-on-4 the Hawks were dominant and Varlamov was forced to make a few great saves in the final minute, including a huge snow angel save with just 14 seconds to go.
The Avalanche had a shaky start to the third period, but recovered well after the first few minutes of Hawks possession. The Avalanche had an excellent opportunity 5:00 into the third period when Tyson Barrie and Alex Tanguay played give-and-go along the half-boards. Barrie fired the puck on net and Dennis Everberg tried to slam home the rebound, but was denied by Crawford. Shortly thereafter, Dennis Everberg had an incredible play on the forecheck to strip Hjarlmarsson of the puck in his own zone and set up John Mitchell in the high slot with a deft touch-pass. Mitchell was stopped by Crawford's shoulder and play went on.
At the 12:00 mark the Avalanche fell victim to a bad penalty call in their own zone. With Bryan Bickell skating down the wing Gabriel Landeskog poked his stick in, made contact with the puck, and was called for tripping when Bickell kicked his own skate with his skate and fell down. The Avs killed the penalty with the help of a few good saves from Semyon Varlamov.
After killing the penalty the Avalanche got the very rare opportunity at a 2:00 5-on-3 power play when the Hawks took an interference penalty, then took another interference penalty for tackling Ryan O'Reilly during the delayed call. The Avalanche quickly went to work with a 5-on-3 unit of O'Reilly, MacKinnon, Landeskog, Iginla and Barrie. The 1st unit was aggressive and effective (just like in the first period) and they were rewarded not once, but twice in the 2:00 man-advantage.
After Jarome Iginla fired a bomb from the point and collected his rebound the Avalanche quickly cycled low to high and left to right from Iginla to Barrie ad across the ice low to Ryan O'Reilly. O'Reilly made a beautiful pass across the crease to Gabriel Landeskog who tapped the puck past a hopeless Corey Crawford for his 5th consecutive game with a goal. Way to go captain.
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The Avalanche came right back on the attack with the 5-on-4 power play and beat Crawford again just 24 seconds later. On the second power play goal Landeskog slipped the puck back to Jarome Iginla near the point and Iginla sauced the puck point to point in Tyson Barrie's wheelhouse. Barrie unloaded on the puck with a slapshot and beat Corey Crawford to make the score 3-1.
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I cannot begin to recap the hilarity that happened next, so I will simply link you to the amazingness contained within this video:
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The game was over. The Blackhawks were so demoralized by that goal that the clock instantly wound down to 0 and Avs fans went home with two points and tons of laughs.
(Ok Duchene had a great near breakaway and was hauled down from behind and stopped and Iginla had a breakaway at the final buzzer but his slapshot was denied. There, that's everything).
The Avs played strong hockey and finished the game with a 30-28 shot advantage. A well earned victory.
Three Stars of the Game:
1. Tyson Barrie: He just always brings it against this Blackhawks squad. Excellent game tonight with 2 goals, an assist, a saved goal and tons of offense created on his stick.
2. Gabe Landeskog: A goal in his 5th straight game.
3. Corey Crawford's agent: because HAAAAAA look at that contract and look at goal 4.
Next Up: Sunday at 7:00 the Avs head back home to take on the Lightning at the Pepsi Center.