By Brad Gardner
The Blackhawks and Avalanche met for the second time in three nights as they took the ice for the back half of their home-and-home series. Corey Crawford and Semyon Varlamov again started between the pipes after an excellent duel Thursday night in Colorado, but neither would have such a strong showing in Saturday’s tilt.
After the Blackhawks carried play for a bulk of the first period, Colorado began to turn the tables in the second half of the frame. The Avs eventually took the lead at the 16:09 mark of the first on a redirect in front of Corey Crawford. Paul Stastny beat everyone to a puck on forecheck and passed back to his blue line. Working his way across the slot, Stastny got his stick on a puck from Kyle Quincey and redirected it past Crawford to put Colorado on the board first.
The Avs took the one goal lead to the locker room, but it would not last long in the second. Michael Frolik brought the game even just 46 seconds into the middle period. Erik Johnson attempted an ill-advised pass up the center of the ice that was picked off by Frolik. He was wide open right in front of Varlamov’s net and buried the chance for his first goal of the season.
David Jones then scored his team-leading fifth goal of the season on another deflected puck 7:41 into the second frame. From behind the net, Jones threw the puck to the front where it deflected up into the air off Brent Seabrook‘s stick. Crawford was able to get his glove on the floating puck but could not keep it out of the net, putting the Avs back up by a goal at 2-1.
Colorado extended their lead less than six minutes later when rookie Gabriel Landeskog slammed home an opportunity on the doorstep. Ryan O’Reilly hit the streaking Landeskog as he came off the bench for a line change for Colorado’s third goal of the game. Landeskog charged to the front of the net and received no resistance from Steve Montador as the rookie notched his third goal of the season.
Later in the second, Jonathan Toews nearly duplicated his ‘Colorado Goal’ from the 2007-08 season when he deked between a few Colorado skaters and got the puck to the front of the net. The puck rolled off his backhand before he could pull it onto the forehand, giving Varlamov the chance to cover the puck.
Not long after the missed opportunity, Daniel Winnik was whistled for a holding penalty and the captain converted just seconds into the power play. Toews picked up a rebound off a Duncan Keith point shot to get the Blackhawks within a goal and pull the crowd back into the game with less than a minute to go in the second.
About four and a half minutes into the third, Nick Leddy single-handedly created Jamal Mayers‘ game-tying goal. The blueliner skated the puck from behind his own net and carried it with speed all the way into the offensive zone. Leddy sent a pass to Mayers, who teed up a quick shot. Varlamov kicked out a rebound that ping-ponged off both of Ryan O’Byrne’s skates and into the net.
Later in the third frame, Patrick Kane won a clean faceoff in the neutral zone and Nick Leddy dumped the puck deep. Patrick Sharp was able to recover the puck on the forecheck and sent it back to the point. Duncan Keith’s one-time blast was tipped by Marian Hossa and redirected past Varlamov to give the Blackhawks their first lead of the game at 4-3 with just over five minutes remaining.
That lead would not hold, however, as Landeskog notched his second goal of the game with less than two minutes remaining in regulation time. Duncan Keith went for a turnover against Winnik but lost the puck to Ryan O’Reilly. The Avs’ center gained the zone and sent a quick centering pass to a wide-open Landeskog streaking towards the net. Crawford was hung out to dry as the rookie flew in all alone and hit his spot inside the post.
The Blackhawks opened the overtime frame on the power play courtesy of a slash called against Milan Hejduk with seconds remaining in regulation. Quenneville sent Toews, Kane, Sharp, and Hossa out for the first shift. The Avs killed the penalty rather easily, save for a couple chances, to get back to even strength at four-on-four.
Crawford made a couple huge stops late in overtime, first on Ryan O’Reilly with just over a minute left in extra time and then recovering on a wrap-around attempt by Hejduk with seconds remaining on the clock.
Quenneville sent out Viktor Stalberg, Toews, and Kane for the shootout. Stalberg appeared to have room but shot his backhander wide, while Toews and Kane were each denied by Varlamov. Crawford stopped the first two attempts by Hejduk and Matt Duchene, but was deked well out of his crease by Joakim Lindstrom in round three, who had a wide open net for the game-deciding tally.
- The Blackhawks unveiled statues commemorating the careers of Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita in a ceremony prior to the game. The life-size, bronze statues stand at the north-east corner of the United Center near Madison Avenue and depict the Blackhawks’ two all-time leading scorers in red Indianhead sweaters.
- Attendance inside the United Center was announced at 21,328. Many more showed up outside for the unveiling ceremony, which included speeches from Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough, and the two guests of honor.
- Coach Joel Quenneville went with the same line-up after the strong effort Thursday night in Colorado. Rostislav Olesz, Sami Lepisto, and John Scott once again watched from upstairs.
- The Blackhawks were 1-for-3 on the power play, but coming up short on the man advantage in overtime soured that unit’s performance. Chicago was not whistled for a single penalty in the game, effectively making Colorado’s potent power play unit a non-factor.
- Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa each scored their fourth goal of the season. Toews has now scored a goal in each of his past three games, while Hossa has scored in each of his past four starts.
- Corey Crawford, making his sixth start, gave up more than two goals for the first time this season. Between the redirects and a bad bounce on the Jones goal, he did not have much of a chance to limit the Colorado offense in this one. The defense actually made a handful of plays in front of him, particularly in limiting the options for Colorado’s forwards on the rush, but both of Landeskog’s goals were the result of defensive breakdowns.
- The other shoe dropped for Dan Carcillo, who did not even last through the first period on the second line with Kane and Hossa. Patrick Sharp eventually settled on Kane’s wing, while Viktor Stalberg skated with Toews and Brunette throughout the third period. Carcillo finished the game on the fourth line with Mayers and Marcus Kruger.
- Nick Leddy played perhaps his most assertive game in his Blackhawks career. In addition to showing his skating ability and carrying the puck in transition, he also had a couple chances from pinching into the offensive zone. Varlamov kicked one rebound out to the middle of the ice and Leddy was in perfect position but couldn’t get a lot on his backhand attempt.