December 15, 2015 Game 32
United Center Chicago, Illinois
While the national story entering tonight's game between the road warrior Colorado Avalanche and host Chicago Blackhawks was the ridiculous 26-game scoring streak Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane was riding, the story on the other side of the ice was a quietly confidence growing in the Avalanche as their 5-2 start to December has helped them claw their way out of the cellar of the Western Conference standings.
After trading early power play chances, the Avalanche would jump on the scoreboard first as a predictably beautiful tic-tac-toe play between Colorado's top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Matt Duchene would result in a Duchene goal, whose shot got a little help from a Blackhawks stick in beating goaltender Corey Crawford for a 1-0 lead. A competitive period start to finish, the Avs would take that lead into the first intermission.
A spirited second period saw the Avalanche push their lead to 2-0 behind a great feed from Blake Comeau to pinching defenseman Zach Redmond, whose shot beat Crawford low on the blocker side just 1:43 into the period. Despite a recent tendency to sit back on 2-0 leads in their last two games, Colorado would continue to push the pace and a very back-and-forth second period would see Avalanche Semyon Varlamov continue his mastery of the Blackhawks and keep them off the scoreboard entering the third period.
Colorado's typical turtle tactics with the lead would rear their ugly head again but Colorado would, yet again, hold off the onslaught behind the brilliance of Varlamov and an empty net goal from Landeskog would push the game to its final score, 3-0 in favor of the Avalanche.
Semyon Varlamov - 29 saves, shutout
Matt Duchene - 1 goal
Gabriel Landeskog - 1 goal, 1 assist
PLAY OF THE GAME
I kind of cheated and went with the icing on the cake in this one because it was a stressful third period for Colorado fans and this goal was a huge weight lifted off the shoulders of Avs viewers.
The goal that made it 2-0 put Chicago in a deep hole against the dominance of Varlamov. Colorado was able to play a safe, tight-checking game from that moment on.
BY THE NUMBERS
Finally, something changes in this one. The victory not only ended Kane's point-scoring streak, the longest the NHL has seen in over 20 years, but it also pushed the Avalanche out of sole possession of last place in the Central Division for the first time since October 17th.
The Avalanche return to Colorado for the beginning of a home-heavy schedule in the second half of December with a game against the New York Islanders on Thursday, December 17 at 7:00 PM.