Coming into their second-to-last home game of the season, the last-place Colorado Avalanche were moving ahead with another infusion of young talent as Duncan Siemens and Rocco Grimaldi were called up from the San Antonio Rampage and inserted into tonight’s lineup. The early results were encouraging as each player contributed positively in a dominant Colorado first period where the Avalanche outshot Chicago 16-4.
Neither team found the back of the net as they traded power plays and the Avalanche dominated the scoring chances but Chicago goaltender Scott Darling stood tall and refused to budge and Avalanche counterpart Calvin Pickard easily matched him with the very light workload in the first period.
The second period was about as high-event as you could ask for as the Blackhawks carried their late power play over into the beginning of the second and scored immediately after Artemi Panarin was left wide open in the slot. The 1-0 lead came just 28 seconds into the frame.
Chicago, emboldened by the goal-for and probably a first intermission tongue lashing, continued scoring when Ryan Hartman broke in and put a soft puck on net and Pickard somehow allowed it to slip through him, putting the Blackhawks up by two just over four minutes into the second period.
Things calmed down for a few minutes as the Avs worked their way back into the period but a beautiful stretch pass from Michal Roszival sprung Marcus Kruger for a clean breakaway and he beat Pickard, making it 3-0 at 10:57.
Despite a heavy shot advantage, the Avalanche remained scoreless thanks to some brilliant goaltending by Darling and just a touch of good fortune along the way. That run of luck came to a screeching halt on a Chicago power play when Matt Nieto hit a streaking Matt Duchene, who one-timed an absolute bullet past Darling for a shorthanded goal and to bring Colorado within two goals.
Another late penalty put the Avalanche on their heels yet again but this time Gabriel Landeskog wreaked havoc on the infamous power play drop pass, intercepting it and putting a shot on Darling, corralling the rebound and wrapping it around and putting the puck in off Darling’s skate, giving Colorado their second shorthanded goal of the period and cutting the lead to 3-2. A late penalty on Chicago gave the Avalanche a power play heading into the start of the third period as they looked to even up the score.
The third period began with even more Colorado domination as they reorded the period’s first ten shots, which shot number ten being Mikhail Grigorenko deflecting an incredible no-look backhand pass from Duchene past Darling and just like that it was tied 3-3.
Play slowed considerably after the tying goal and crept into overtime. Each team had chances but Erik Johnson showcased his blend of speed and hands in going coast-to-coast before beating Darling, giving the Avalanche the 4-3 overtime victory.
1. Scott Darling
2. Matt Duchene
3. Erik Johnson
PLAY OF THE GAME
Landeskog’s shorthanded goal in the second period was a one-man army as he destroyed the Chicago breakout, put a shot on goal, found his own rebound and then scored, igniting a frustrated Avalanche fan base and providing hope for the Avs the rest of the way.
Grigorenko’s third-period goal tied it up and set the stage for another interesting finish at the Pepsi Center.
BY THE NUMBERS
Colorado’s next home game is also their last of the season as the Minnesota Wild come to town on Thursday night.