By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks continued to roll on the road Monday night, coming away with a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Chicago prevailed despite losing Marian Hossa to an upper body injury early in the game and Brent Seabrook to an apparent benching by coach Joel Quenneville during the second period.
The Blackhawks got off to a fast start, with Jimmy Hayes benefitting from a strong fore check by Dave Bolland to pot his first goal with the ‘Hawks this season. Jan Hejda lost the puck to Patrick Kane, who fired to Hayes in front of the net. Hayes went to the backhand and slid home the game’s first goal at the 3:47 mark.
Less than a minute later, Bryan Bickell took a hit from Erik Johnson but was able to tip the puck out of the Chicago zone. Viktor Stalberg went up the left side and found Andrew Shaw to his right. Shaw went high on Semyon Varlamov and gave the Blackhawks a 2-0 with less than five minutes into the contest.
Chicago took it to the Avs for most of the period but late in the period the momentum was slowed when Colorado got on the board. The goal came with the Blackhawks on the power play after Patrick Kane was hooked by Greg Zanon with 1:31 left in the opening period.
After a couple of chances, Matt Duchene sent the puck to Landeskog, who streaked through the neutral zone. Brent Seabrook got caught in the jet stream and Landeskog lifted the puck over Emery’s stick at the 19:27 mark. At the first intermission, Chicago led 2-1.
The second period proceeded in a similar fashion, with the ‘Hawks scoring twice before the Avalanche answered late. Kane posted his 16th goal of the year 7:49 in as he knocked in a rebound past a sprawling Varlamov. He was assisted by Jonathan Toews, who made a strong move out of the corner to the net, and Duncan Keith.
Kane, in turn, set up the next score. Taking the puck out of the corner, he found Seabrook, who spent a good part of the middle frame on the bench following the shorthanded goal. Seabrook’s one-timer whizzed past Varlamov at the 14:40 mark to increase the lead to 4-1.
Colorado cut into the ‘Hawks advantage with 1:26 to go in the period when John Mitchell entered the Chicago zone. He found Milan Hejduk coming up the right side and made a nice pass to cut the lead to 4-2 after 40 minutes.
Keith found Kane with a long pass for a breakaway early in the third period, but Varlamov got a glove on the shot. Toews also had a nice chance in the third minute when he got to the doorstep, but the Avs goalie gave his team a chance to get back into the game by coming up with some stops.
The ‘Hawks defense took the drama out of the final period, limiting Colorado to four shots in the last 20 minutes. The Avalanche didn’t get a shot on Emery until well past the halfway point of the period.
Toews got a late goal to seal the deal, coming up the right side and sending a lazer to the back of the net at the 16:30 mark. Brandon Saad and Seabrook had the helpers as Chicago cruised to their third straight win.
-Hossa was hit along the boards by Ryan O’Byrne, who has delivered some questionable hits to several Blackhawks in the recent past. I would have to get a better look at the play on which Hossa was injured before I proclaim the hit dirty or not. Quenneville said Hossa was day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
-It seemed pretty obvious that Quenneville sat Seabrook based on how Quenneville addressed the question following the contest. Whether you think Seabs deserved it or not, it was nice to see that Quenneville is not afraid to sit one of his stars.
-With Seabrook and Hossa out for a good portion of the game, the rest of the lineup picked up the slack. Notable for some increased minutes was Michal Rozsival’s 21:46 of ice time as well as Brandon Bollig, who once again had a season-high 12:06 Monday.
-Emery picked up his 11th win of the season, stopping 17 of 19 shots.
-Nice shiner on the left eye of Jamie Kompon, who took a puck to the face in practice.
-The two teams were whistled just once apiece, with the Colorado shorty the only special teams score of the night.
-Next up for Chicago is what should be a big-time showdown in Anaheim Wednesday night.