In what would seem to be a critical game, the first of a back-to-back home and home between the Blackhawks and divisional rival Colorado, the Hawks came out flat and never recovered—effectively blitzkrieged by what appears to be a superior team in the Avs.
The Blackhawks’ lines and pairings were:
Did not go well.
Nathan McKinnon tipped a JT Compher shot from the left circle past Crawford at just :59 on the Avs’ first shot of the game. 1-0 Colorado.
And things got worse from there. Less than 3 minutes later, Ryan Graves got his turn also from the left circle, set up by Matt Nieto and McKinnon. 2-0 Avalanche at 3:17. Not long afterward, Andrew Shaw tried to “juice” his teammates by taking on the much larger Graves in a fight, earning kudos from the Hawk radio broadcast team for changing the tone of the game.
Except, he really didn’t.
Gustafsson took another late penalty, but the period ended without any further scoring. Shots were actually 10-7 Chicago for the period, but the Avs were basically besting the Hawks with their speed for better scoring chances and lots of odd-man breaks.
Also, proved basically disastrous for Chicago.
Two quick goals, one at 9:45 by Valeri Nichushkin, and another by Compher at 11:26 made the score 5-1 Colorado.
Patrick Kane salvaged a small token of respect from the period, scoring at 19:56 from Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad, making the game 5-2. Again, shots were 19-7 Chicago in the period, but Colorado often had the Hawks on their heels regardless.
The Hawks didn’t have much pushback in the third, especially with Duncan Keith out with a groin injury suffered earlier in the game. The Avs for their part, seemed to have it on cruise control, hence the period ended at the same score it started with. 5-2. Shots in the third were 8-7 Colorado.
Shaw showed some energy aside from just scrapping with Graves. The Hawks’ fourth line of Smith, Carpenter and Matthew Highmore was arguably their best.
Not a great outing for Crawford, who seemed to have trouble tracking the puck early on. Gustafsson and Keith were both -2.
The speed difference between the Hawks and the Avs was clear. Further, and because of that difference, the Blackhawks lack of structure and tendency on the part of their defensemen to overcommit up the ice was taken advantage of all game by Colorado—hence the number of odd-man rushes the Avs had.