The highlights will mostly involved Colorado netminder Seymon Varlamov keeping the Hawks out of the net, but Chicago outlasted the Avalanche in a big early-season game on Thursday night.
The game was tied after two period, but the Hawks put on a puck possession clinic in the third period that we didn’t see much last season. Colorado managed only one goal in the first 10 minutes of the third period, and only two in the first 15 minutes of the final frame.
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks attacked the net and finally Patrick Sharp got the eventual game-winning puck past Varlamov at 7:20 in the third. Marian Hossa added an empty-net short-handed goal late to put the finishing touch on a 3-1 victory.
The loss ended a five-game winning streak for the Avs, who are winless in Denver. Varlamov was incredible, though, making 27 saves on 29 shots. Most of Varlamov’s saves were high difficulty and in traffic, and he continued to impress early in the season. Colorado’s netminder was the game’s Number One star because of saves like this:
On the other end of the ice, Corey Crawford was good again for the Hawks. He finished with 31 saves against 32 shots, thanks to a big late-game rush from the Avs that ended with them putting 12 shots on net in the third period (ten in the final five minutes).
Crawford has allowed nine goals against 139 shots against over five games to start this year. That’s a .935 save percentage, and he extended his record to 3-1-1 to start the year.
While the Blackhawks power play continued to struggle, failing on both opportunities, their penalty kill remained as good as it gets in the league. They kept the fifth-ranked Avs power play unit off the scoreboard in their two attempts.
Sharp scored his second goal of the season, while Hossa and Jonathan Toews each scored their third. Assists were credited to Daniel Carcillo, Nick Leddy, Andrew Brunette, Duncan Keith and Toews on the night.
Leddy had perhaps his best game of the young season. He skated 22:36, the second-highest ice time total on the Hawks, and was credited with four blocked shots and two takeaways. Coach Joel Quenneville also used Leddy for more than a minute on both the power play and penalty kill on Thursday night.
Brent Seabrook blocked a game-high six shots on the night. The Hawks were unusually poor at the dot in Denver; both Toews and Patrick Kane were under 50 percent on draws on Thursday night, and the the Hawks won only 23 of 54 faceoffs in the game.
These two teams will meet again on Saturday night at the United Center.