Few things seem as certain as death, taxes and catching the Chicago Blackhawks napping at home on a lopsided game on paper but considering the month of horror the Colorado Avalanche just experienced, assuming the puck would ever hit the back of the net again seemed a little farfetched. However, all that just happened and more as not only one but two pucks managed to find twine and give the Avalanche a sorely needed win heading into the three-day holiday break.
The Blackhawks opened the scoring with a Jonathan Towes goal off a rebound on the power play at 11:52 of the second period. The Avalanche were successful in holding the game scoreless up to that point but after yet again giving up the first goal it seemed like it would be one of those nights of a good effort but not good enough. Mikko Rantanen would respond and tie the game at 5:42 of the third period tipping in a fantastic pass from Tyson Barrie. Rantanen was close several times and the goal was reward for a fantastic effort all night long. At just 25 seconds in to overtime Nathan MacKinnon took a beautiful feed from Barrie and sped down the wing to snipe post and in on the winning goal.
3 Keys to the Game
The future of the franchise showed up especially for this game and put in their best efforts. Mikko Rantanen tied the game, had 5 shots on goal and was close to scoring several times. Nathan MacKinnon scored the game winner, collected two points on the evening and had 4 shots on goal as well. Nikita Zadorov lead the team in ice time with nearly 25 minutes including a full shift on the power play, 8 hits, 1 shot on goal and several nice rushes with the puck, hopefully setting the stage for continued growth and a big second half of the season.
A good bounce back effort for many players who haven’t been at the top of their game for a while. Tyson Barrie contributed two primary assists on nice plays that lead to both goals. Calvin Pickard made 38 saves and put in a very solid outing after some uneven starts over the last month. Eric Gelinas looked refreshed and as effective as he ever has been in an Avalanche sweater. Cody Goloubef has also settled down and is playing a more solid dependable game with less minutes lately.
One win doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. The issues that were present yesterday and through the entire month of December have not disappeared. But there is nothing like the good feelings of going off into the holiday break and a reminder that the players on this team are capable of good things. Sometimes hope is all you have and that is one thing that has been tough to find in the last month. Sports fandom really is just jumping from bouts of temporary happiness to another always in search of that fleeting high, so enjoy when it appears and don’t question it.
Up Next: Back at the house of horrors for a 7pm mountain time match with the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, December 27th