On a night when the Avalanche’s big guns willed themselves onto the score sheet, it would have been nice to see the rest of the team put up a merely acceptable NHL performance. Alas, it was just too much to ask for. Colorado lost 6-4 to the Chicago Blackhawks tonight, despite carrying a lead into the third period.
The scoring kicked off like a lot of Avalanche games do, in that the other team scored first. During a shift in which Colorado’s 4th line (Mitchell, Colborne, Grigorenko) was pinned in their own zone, Chicago worked the puck around and put the puck on net from the point. Goalie Semyon Varlamov stopped the shot, but gave up a fat and juicy rebound in the slot. Nikita Zadorov had his man tied up, Tyson Barrie had his guy tied up, but John Mitchell lost track of Nick Schmaltz who skated in and buried the rebound to put his team up 1-0, not even three minutes into the game.
The good news, for the few fans at the Pepsi Center in Burgundy & Blue jerseys, was that the Avalanche got right back up off the mat. Nathan MacKinnon, during a power play opportunity, took a pass from Tyson Barrie and ripped a shot through a crowd toward the net and in. He was initially credited with the goal, but the scorers eventually changed it to Matt Duchene, who made a nifty mid-air deflection.
And back-and-forth they went!
The next one came for Brent Seabrook with a blast from the far-right blue line. The puck went through a whole bunch of bodies and was goal you generally chalk up to bad luck, except one couldn’t help but notice the fourth line was out on the ice again. Blake Comeau would even the game back up for the Avs early in the second period, taking a sweet Nathan MacKinnon blast and firing a big slap shot past Corey Crawford for his seventh goal on the year.
More scoring, you ask? Sure!
Newcomer Matt Nieto got his first tally in an Avalanche uniform, capitalizing off a fantastic Gabriel Landeskog play, where he stole a pass at the blue line and powered toward the goal, drawing three Blackhawks defenders. When the all collapsed, he dished to Nieto, who finished with a slick backhand to give Colorado its first lead of the game. And then—get this—they took the lead again! Matt Duchene made the play of the year so far for the Avalanche, skating past two Blackhawks defenders and going top shelf on Crawford to give Colorado a two-goal edge. (Seriously, if you don’t do anything else tonight, watch that highlight.)
But then the third period happened.
First, Vinnie Hinostroza scored after receiving a long up-ice pass and receiving absolutely no defensive resistance from Eric Gelinas to draw the game to 4-4. Then Hinostroza scored again, on his very next shift, beating Blake Comeau to the net and burying a great pass from Tanner Kero. After the Avalanche pulled their goalie for the final minute (or so), Chicago would score on an empty-netter, with Toews giving up an open look to Kero to make the final score 6-4.
The Avalanche drop to 13-28-1 and remain in last freaking place.