The Chicago Blackhawks have fallen into 3rd place, in the Central Division, as Semyon Varlamov, and the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Hawks, for the 4th time, this season, and have taken over 2nd place, in the Central.
The 1st period got off to a quick, fiery start, as the Blackhawks started the pressure early, when Duncan Keith made a costly turnover, but was luckily bailed out, by Antti Raanta, but Keith took a roughing penalty, in the ensuing scrum, giving the Avalanche an early Power Play, in which they would ever so narrowly miss scoring on, as the Hawks Penalty Killing unit was able to hold on, and thankfully kill the penalty.
Half-way, through the 1st period, after play slowed down to a still torrid pace, Sheldon Brookbank and Cody McLeod fought, but McLeod was also given an interference penalty, giving the Hawks their first Power Play, of the game, which they were unable to take advantage of.
Just as the 1st period was looking it would end scoreless, even after all the high-energy play, Brad Malone was able to score, on an awkward angle shot, that Raanta wishes he could have back, as the Avalanche would strike first, and take the 1-0 lead, to the 1st intermission.
Not wasting any time, the Avs’ Matt Duchene found the back of the net, just 19 seconds, into the 2nd period, to give Colorado a 2-0 lead, as well as a stranglehold, on the momentum gained, at the end of the 1st period, on the Malone goal. After failing to convert any of the plentiful Varlamov rebounds, the Hawks would get a chance, on the Power Play, when Nate Guenin would take an interference penalty, that the Hawks would fail to take advantage of, continuing the recent struggles, of the Power Play.
Not quite half-way, through the 2nd, Patrick Kane dazzled his way past Jan Hejda, with a gorgeous highlight reel goal, to bring the Hawks within a goal, with the score 2-1, in favor of the Avalanche. The Avs would get a Power Play, 5 minutes later, on a questionable call when Hejda shoved Kane into Varlamov, resulting in a goaltender interference penalty, on Kane, which the Hawks would end up killing off.
The referees apparently realized they may have missed the call, on the goaltender interference penalty, on Kane, as the Hawks were able to draw a hooking penalty, from John Mitchell, to earn another Power Play, in which the Hawks were unable to take advantage of, although the created more chances. The Hawks would create some more even-streghth chances, but to no avail, as the 2nd period ended, with the score 2-1, in favor of Colorado.
Johnny Oduya was the unsung hero, of the 2nd period, with 2 spectacular diving shot blocks, that likely saved 2 goals, for the Avalanche.
The Hawks started off the 3rd period, controlling the tempo, until Andrew Shaw took an ill-advised interference penalty. While on the Penalty Kill, the Hawks caught more bad luck when Marcus Kruger inadvertently flipped the puck, into the crowd, in his own zone, resulting in a delay of game penalty, giving the Avalanche a 5 on 3 Power Play, for 1:31.
Colorado would take advantage, when Ryan O’reilly found the back of the net, to make it 3-1 Avalanche.
Hawks head coach, Joel Quenneville pulled Antti Raanta, which lead to Brandon Saad bringing the Hawks within one, as he took advantage of a Varlamov rebound, making the score 3-2.
After applying some more pressure and creating some chances, the Hawks were unable to find the equalizer, as the Avalanche would go on to win, by a score of 3-2.
The Blackhawks have fallen to 3rd place, in the Central Division, as the Avalance have leapfrogged, over them, into 2nd place. If the season were to end now, the Hawks would play the Avalanche, in the 1st round of the playoffs, with the Colorado having home-ice advantage.
This was indeed a tough loss, for the Hawks.
16 games to go, in the regular season, and plenty of time to get things going again.