By all accounts, Semyon Varlamov has absolutely dominated Chicago in his career. The Avalanche goalie has stood on his head more times than I can recall and given his team a chance to win more often than they deserve. One problem: Chicago is one of the best teams in hockey and they weren't going to be denied forever. A market correction was due. Tonight Blackhawks came to collect.
Chicago put themselves up 2-0 within the opening twenty minutes of play, the first on an Brandon Mishinter shot through traffic shortly after a faceoff. The second came from -- who else? -- Patrick Kane dancing about a bumbling Avalanche defense and firing a rifle shot from above the dots past Varlamov.
They wouldn't waste any time adding to their total in the 2nd Period either. Just 1:39 into the middle frame, Marion Hossa broke a scoring drought when an overmatched Andrew Bodnarchuk got pinned in the Colorado zone and coughed the puck up to Jonathan Toews, who found Niklas Hjalmarsson, who dished to Hossa for an easy goal in the slot.
Matt Duchene then put his foot down and scored the next two goals for the Avalanche. The first a close shot that trickled into the net, the second a devastating wrister after faking goalie Corey Crawford out of his breezers. This drew the Avalanche to within one goal of the lead with considerable momentum.
However, that ray of hope would subside three minutes later when captain Gabriel Landeskog was inexplicably called for hooking after merely lifting Phillip Danault's stick. Patrick Kane would score again on the ensuing power play, making the game 4-2, and forcing Patrick Roy to make a change at goalie.
Unfortunately, backup Calvin Pickard would fare no better. Toews and Hossa would add two more goals before the 2nd Period ended, putting the game out of reach for the visiting Avalanche.
Nathan MacKinnon would score a meaningless goal in the 3rd Period; otherwise, no other scoring (mercifully) would take place. The Blackhawks walked back to the locker room with a 6-3 victory.