March 8, 2013
Pepsi Center, Denver Colorado
Colorado Avalanche (8-10-4) @ Chicago Blackhawks (21-0-3)
The Avalanche had their second chance at the Blackhawks, this time at home, just two days after a valiant effort fell short on the road in Chicago. It was a sellout at the Pepsi Center, but many of the 19,000 fans that packed in were Blackhawks supporters, and red was a prominent color in the stands.
Early in the game, those Blackhawks faithful got what they wanted, when Jonathan Toews opened the scoring just over five minutes into the contest. After the goal, the game slowed to a snail’s pace, and there was no action at either end of the ice. The Avalanche made sure the Blackhawks didn’t head into the room with the lead however, and Paul Stasny picked up the equalizer with 3 minutes left to go. The rest of the period was status quo, and the teams headed off for the first intermission in a 1-1 deadlock.
That was as good as it got for the Blackhawks.
The second period began, and it was all Avalanche from the start. After a few chances, Matt Duchene buried from the slot, and the Avalanche had their second 2-1 lead in as many games. It would not be contained to a one goal margin, as just 33 seconds later, John Mitchell made it a 3-1 game. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville had seen enough at that point, and called his timeout. It would not help. Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn both tallied for the Avalanche, and in the space of 9 minutes and 44 seconds, Colorado had stunned the seemingly invincible ‘Hawks.
Corey Crawford’s night ended at the end of the second, as Ray Emery came out to start the third. Crawford gave up 5 goals on 19 shots, a dismal .737% save percentage.
The Blackhawks had more than enough skill to comeback in the third, but the Avalanche did a great job of clearing pucks, and taking as much time off the clock as possible. Bryan Bickell gave Chicago fans hope with 8 minutes passed in the third, when he cut the lead to three, but the Blackhawks could get no real momentum going, and P.A. Parenteau nullified that with a goal of his own late. During the last few minutes, substantially less red jerseys were in the crowd, and Avalanche fans began the gut-wrenching chant of “End The Streak.” Alas, it was over.
Final Score: Colorado 6 – Chicago 2
It had to end sometime. The Blackhawks did not play well that night, and their magical streak was over, lasting half of the season. This loss allowed players, staff, and their fans to refocus, and fall back to earth after being on cloud nine for almost two months. This loss gave Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff many things to work on, and ultimately made the Blackhawks a better team. If there was ever a good loss, this may have been it. If the ‘streak’ went on any longer, the Blackhawks may not have learned how to persevere come playoff time, and their Stanley Cup run may not have happened. With no affect on the standings at that particular time, the Blackhawks were able to refocus for the second half of the season with the ‘streak’ firmly in the rear-view.
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