By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks game in Colorado Tuesday night was a matchup of two teams looking to break out of five-game winless streaks. Someone was going to taste their first win in a while in the Pepsi Center. The ‘Hawks will have to look to break out of their growing slump further West after three third period goals sunk Chicago. Paul Stastny and David Jones led the way as the Avalanche beat the Blackhawks 5-2.
Both teams took nine shots in the first period, none of which found their way past Emery or Jean-Sebastien Giguere. The Avalanche had a couple of odd man rushes that were turned away, most notably by Duncan Keith when Colorado threatened to put of a short-handed goal on a ‘Hawks power play in the fifteenth minute.
Late in the period a bouncing puck got away from Niklas Hjalmarsson, leading to a 2-on-1 led by Stansty. Chuck Kobasew was set up with an open goal, but hit the side of the net with his one-timer.
The Blackhawks got their goose egg off the scoreboard seconds into the middle frame. It was Viktor Stalberg who got things started by winning a race to the boards to gain control of the puck in the Colorado zone.
Stalberg got the puck to Jonathan Toews, who brought it out to Keith on the point. Keith’s shot caromed off of Stalberg’s skate and to a waiting Brent Seabrook, who slapped home the shot before Giguere could recover.
Down 1-0, Colorado responded with a surge that saw them assault Ray Emery with scoring chances. Ryan O’Reilly picked Toews’ pocket and started another 2-on-1, converting when he dished to Peter Meuller for the equalizer at the 3:24 mark.
Thirty-five seconds later, Keith mishandled a bouncing puck and Milan Hejduk took advantage, feeding Jones to give the Avalanche a 2-1 lead.
Chicago was able to answer at the 6:14 mark when Keith hit Patrick Sharp coming over the blue line. Sharp found Patrick Kane, who fought off a back check by Jones and backhanded home the biscuit to knot the game 2-2.
Colorado continued to put the pressure on the Blackhawks defense, firing off 13 shots in the first half of the period. Stalberg got to the door step in the thirteenth minute but Giguere was there to deny him.
Toews made a nice play to get to the front of the net with 4:54 to play in the second, but his backhander was soaked up by Giguere. Colorado attacked the crease throughout the last few minutes of the period, but the score remained tied as both squads hit the locker room hoping to catch their breaths after a fast-paced middle 20 minutes.
Colorado broke the tie 38 ticks into the third when Gabriel Landeskog swiped an entry pass from Stalberg. Playing give and go with Stastny, Landeskog beat Emery over the glove to make it 3-2 Avalanche.
The Blackhawks had several opportunities to answer in the first eight minutes. Toews found himself with a loose puck next to the Colorado crease, but could sneak the puck past Giguere. Marian Hossa took a nice pass from Hjalmarsson for a breakaway, but lost control when he tried to deke the Avalanche goalie.
Andrew Shaw drew a penalty from Kyle Quincey in the fifth minute. Despite several decent chances, Chicago came up empty. Daniel Winnik committed a hi-stick at the 8:45 mark, but again was turned away.
At the 11:42 mark, Colorado stuck in a dagger when Stastny caught the ‘Hawks out of position along the boards in the Avalanche zone. Jones took a pass, skated into the Chicago zone, and beat Emery for the back-breaker. Quincey added a final kick in the jewels when Quincey banked a clearing attempt off the boards and into an empty net with 2:02 to play.
-Patrick Kane definitely made an effort to get the puck on goal tonight, looking to shoot first often. Chicago got off 31 shots to 29 for Colorado, but managed just two goals. When you have to out gun your opponents and you can’t score, it’s going to be rough seas ahead.
-The Avalanche had the market cornered on odd man rushes. Colorado’s speed up front wore out the ‘Hawks all evening.
-Steve Montador did not play in the third period, as he was being x-rayed. As Sean O’Donnell is already playing big minutes and Joel Quenneville lacks the confidence in Sami Lepisto or John Scott to play more than five minutes, Chicago may be adding a defenseman to the roster one way or another.
-On the fourth Colorado goal, both Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik had the play develop in front of them but failed to cover for their pinching defensemen.
-Emery got beat a couple of times on the glove side, but it’s hard to put too much fault in his performance when the defense allowed the Avalanche to bring superior numbers to the net time and again.
-With Nashville earning a point and St. Louis winning Tuesday, Chicago now sits four points behind their three Central Division counterparts ahead of them in the standings.
-Blackhawks next play in San Jose on Friday night, followed by a trip to Phoenix on Saturday. Their nine-game road trip then continues on face the Predators, Rangers and Blue Jackets next week before returning home on the 19th for a matinee with the Blues.