WHERE/WHEN

December 31, 2015 Game 38

Pepsi Center Denver, Colorado

HIGHLIGHTS

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After scoring four power play goals in San Jose on Tuesday night the Avalanche’s red hot power play struck once more to kick off the team’s New Year’s Eve celebration. In now familiar fashion, the Avalanche scored the first goal of the game just 4:04 into the first period when Carl Soderberg deflected his 7th goal of the season into the back of the net off an Alex Tanguay pass. The Avalanche were the better team for most of the period, creating a number of high danger chances to increase their lead, but Scott Darling was strong in net for the Blackhawks and kept his team in the game early. With just under 2:00 remaining in the period Darling’s strong effort paid off, and Artem Anisimov gave the Hawks an equalizing goal on the rush with Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin.

The second period has plagued the Avalanche all season and tonight was no different as the quality of their plat slipped substantially as the team was outshot by a 17-5 margin. The Hawks took their first lead of the night 2:00 into the game when Andrew Desjardins tipped in a Teuvo Teravainen wrist shot. The Avalanche dug themselves deeper into the hole by taking a few early penalties, and were punished with a wide open Patrick Kane one-timer on the power play to give the Blackhawks a 3-1 lead. The Avalanche would find their legs midway through the 2nd period with a few good shifts from the Duchene and Grigorenko lines. Cody McLeod would get the Avalanche back within striking distance after sniping the puck top shelf off of a Matt Duchene feed. In the dying seconds of the period Matt Duchene deked through the Chicago defense, but couldn’t pick the corner on Darling.

In the third period Carl Soderberg earned an early power play for the home team, and despite several quality feeds to Jarome Iginla they couldn’t beat Scott Darling.  The Avalanche didn’t score on their early power play, but it did give the team early momentum in the third as they spent the better part of eight minutes buzzing the Chicago net. In the third period Francois Beauchemin was penalized for a long scrum with Hawks agitator Andrew Shaw. When these teams met earlier in the month Andrew Shaw took Beauchemin out of the game with a controversial check to the head.

The Beauchemin penalty sent the Avalanche spiraling as Chicago looked to draw blood on the power play for a second time. Semyon Varlamov stood tall, making a series of impressive saves on the penalty kill, but to no avail. The Avalanche would struggle to create much offensive pressure once they returned to full strength. When Alex Tanguay took a lazy offensive zone penalty with 7:00 to go, things looked grim for an Avalanche comeback. The Avalanche were significantly improved on the penalty kill, and took control of the ice back from the Blackhawks in their desperation bid for overtime. With 5:00 remaining in the period the Avalanche found their hero in defenseman Erik Johnson. Flying down the right wing Erik Johnson snapped a puck past Scott Darling to send the Avalanche to overtime.

The Avalanche’s inexperience in 3-on-3 overtime showed against the seasoned Blackhawks. The Avalanche gave up a number of grade A opportunities and struggled to find their own way towards the Chicago net. With just over 2:00 left in the overtime frame the Avalanche took a too many men on the ice penalty for a bad line change which left head coach Patrick Roy fuming behind the bench. With 2:00 full minutes of 4-on-3, hockey’s most lethal power play, Jonathan Toews finally beat Semyon Varlamov to give the Blackhawks the victory.

With Tyson Barrie out late with flu like symptoms, Erik Johnson and Francois Beauchemin both logged over 27 minutes of ice time while Nick Holden logged 22 minutes.

THREE STARS

  1. Jonathan Toews – 1G (GWG) and 4 shots
  2. Semyon Varlamov – 39 saves, .909 SV%
  3. Patrick Kane – 1G, 2A and 7 shots

PLAY OF THE GAME

Semyon Varlamov with the save and play of the night.

TURNING POINT

The Avalanche’s late penalty killing in the third period kept them in the game, set up for Erik Johnson’s third period goal, and earned them a point in the standings.

BY THE NUMBERS

Avs Hawks SA Avs Hawks SC

LASTING IMPACT

As of the conclusion of the game the Avalanche sit four points out of a wildcard spot in the Western Conference with both Nashville and Winnipeg still in action on the night.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Avalanche continue their home stand Saturday, January 2nd against the Calgary Flames at 7:00 MST.

Cole Hamilton

Cole is Vancouver born but a Colorado native at heart, spending 21 years in the Denver and Boulder area. This CU Boulder graduate started covering the Avalanche with Mile High Hockey in 2011 and after four years took over briefly as the site's managing editor. After a year trapped in Chicago Blackhawk's territory Cole is back in Boulder writing on the Avalanche and their prospects.