The Chicago Blackhawks have struggled against Semyon Varlamov in recent games, and Friday’s contest was no exception as they were buried by the Colorado Avalanche by a score of 4-1 on Friday night.
Kris Versteeg did score a goal for the Blackhawks, but it wasn’t enough as Colorado scored three times in the third period and sent the Blackhawks to their first regulation defeat of their lengthy homestand. Tyson Barrie scored twice for Colorado in the victory.
The game started out relatively slowly for both teams, as neither side could quite get their skates underneath them offensively. The Blackhawks did have a few quality chances in the first half of the period, including a 2-on-0 rush, but Kris Versteeg whiffed on the shot after one pass too many from Patrick Kane, and the game remained scoreless.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, that inability to convert on rare scoring chances cost them as the Avalanche scored first. After the Blackhawks failed to clear the puck out of the zone twice in succession, and eventually Barrie corralled the puck in the middle of the ice and flipped a shot past Corey Crawford to make it a 1-0 game.
The Hawks were unable to score in the final minutes of the first period, and their struggles continued as the second period began. They even got a power play about three minutes into the period, but their puck movement didn’t result in any quality chances as the Avalanche maintained their lead.
Fortunately for Chicago, one player didn’t allow the funk to overcome him, with Versteeg saving the way. On a tremendous play, Michal Rozsival shot a puck deliberately wide of the net, and Brad Richards picked it up. Knowing that Versteeg was pinching in, Richards hit a quick backhand pass to Versteeg and allowed the winger to rip a one-timer past Varlamov to tie things up at 1-1 with about 11 minutes remaining in the period.
The end of the period saw players starting to get chippy, as Marian Hossa and Gabriel Landeskog were both sent to the penalty box on cross-checking minors. Neither team was able to take advantage of the more wide-open ice however, and the contest remained tied after two periods of play.
The third period was a complete disaster for the Blackhawks, as they surrendered three goals and coughed up an opportunity for two points. The first two tallies came on an Avalanche power play after penalties to Patrick Sharp and Niklas Hjalmarsson put the Hawks short-handed. The first was scored by Gabriel Landeskog, who got a really good cross-ice pass from Ryan O’Reilly to give his team a 2-1 lead.
Just 24 seconds later, Colorado scored again. After some great puck movement by the Avalanche, Barrie scored his second goal of the night off a feed from Jarome Iginla to make it a 3-1 game.
About three minutes later, the Avalanche put the final nail in the Blackhawks’ coffin. Skating up across the defensive blue line, Colorado defenseman Brad Stuart fired the puck up ice toward the Hawks’ net. Seeing that Colorado was trying to change lines, Crawford tried to put his stick blade on the puck for a quick pass up ice, but it ended up skipping over him and slid into the net to put Colorado up by a score of 4-1.
The Blackhawks will look to recover from their loss on Sunday afternoon when they welcome the Boston Bruins to the United Center for a nationally televised Original Six showdown.