The Chicago Blackhawks came into Denver hoping for a rebound after a lackluster loss Sunday, and they got exactly that as three Patrick Kane assists led them to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night.
Jonathan Toews and Andrew Shaw each scored power play goals for the Blackhawks, and Bryan Bickell’s even-strength tally in the third period proved to be the difference maker as the Hawks secured their third win in four games on their annual circus trip. Maxime Talbot and Ryan O’Reilly scored goals for the Avalanche as their tough season continues.
The Blackhawks began the game on the sloppy side, with poor passing and silly decisions nearly costing them on several occasions. Duncan Keith capped everything off by committing an early penalty, but the Avalanche repaid that kindness by committing one of their own to cancel out the power play. Marian Hossa got a great chance on goal during a 2-on-1 rush, and Toews would have scored had Tyson Barrie not hauled him down on the play to earn a penalty.
After the early mistakes by the Blackhawks, they seemed to turn things around following the Hossa chance and grabbed control of the game. Hossa had another great shot from the middle of the ice, but Colorado goaltender Calvin Pickard made a great save. Brandon Saad followed that up with two more shots, but neither could evade the goaltender. A few moments later, Kane got in on the act as he rifled in a shot on the rush, but it rang loudly off the post and kept the game scoreless.
In the closing stages of the period, the Blackhawks continued their onslaught. Shaw fired a shot from the wing just outside of the post and off of the side of the net. Kane also got another shot in, but Pickard found the puck through traffic and knocked it down as Toews screened him in the crease. The momentum was stymied a bit when Keith was sent to the box again at the very end of the first period, but the Hawks’ penalty killing unit came up big as they prevented Colorado from getting a single shot on goal as the power play carried over into the second stanza.
The Blackhawks got a power play of their own shortly after that kill, but they couldn’t score either. Richards fired in a shot from the point that hit traffic in front, but Saad couldn’t quite push the rebound home. Toews also had a stuff attempt rebuffed by Pickard, and Marian Hossa tried to fool the officials by sliding the puck underneath the back of the net when Shaw lifted it from its moorings, but the men in stripes weren’t fooled as the game remained scoreless.
Eight minutes into the second period, it was Colorado that finally broke the deadlock. Marc-Andre Cliché grabbed the puck behind the Chicago net, and he feathered a pass to Talbot, who wristed a shot past Crawford to put Colorado up 1-0.
A few minutes later, the Blackhawks got another power play, and this time they were able to capitalize. Brent Seabrook blasted in a shot from the point that hit traffic in front, and as it skipped along the goal line, Toews was able to get a stick on it and pop it into the net to knot the game up at a goal apiece.
The Blackhawks got yet another power play a few moments later as Nick Holden was sent off for holding, and they scored again to take the lead. After pulling up in the offensive zone, Kane feathered a pass across the zone to Shaw, who was able to stretch out to grab the pass and flip a wrist shot past Pickard and inside the near post to make it 2-1 Blackhawks.
As the second period came to an end, the Avalanche started pouring it on offensively, but the Hawks withstood the barrage. Matt Duchene got two quick shots in on goal that Crawford stopped, and a few moments later Jarome Iginla fired in a shot and tried to score on the rebound, but the Hawks’ goaltender stood tall and kept his team ahead after 40 minutes.
That Avalanche pressure continued into the third period, and it ultimately resulted in a game-tying goal. With five Blackhawks skaters surrounding the net, a loose puck simply laid on the ice, and O’Reilly eventually picked it up and wristed it into the top shelf of the net to tie the game up at 2-2.
The Blackhawks ended up rebounding nicely from the Colorado goal, generating several more scoring chances despite failing to pick up a goal on the power play. When play returned to even strength, Kane knocked a cross-ice pass out of midair from Duncan Keith, eluded three different Colorado defenders, and fed a pass to the front of the net to Bickell, who tapped home an easy shot to make it a 3-2 game.
Over the final few minutes of the game, the Avalanche fired away at Crawford, but they couldn’t get any goals home. The Hawks’ fourth line ended up playing really solid defense in the closing 30 seconds or so, with Ben Smith nearly picking up an empty net goal on a diving attempt. The Hawks then won a face-off in the offensive zone, and they ran out the clock to seal the victory.
The Blackhawks will take Thanksgiving off before starting a two-game swing through southern California, beginning with the Anaheim Ducks on Friday afternoon.