The final score means something in the standings – and the history books – but the Blackhawks more pressing concerns were with players that had to leave the game.
Marian Hossa was a late scratch, Michael Frolik was still sick and the Hawks lost both Andrew Shaw and Patrick Sharp to injuries during the game. With a game in Denver on Friday night, the shuttle from Rockford could be busy.
Shaw took an ugly elbow to the head from Paul Stastny late in the second period and did not return to the game. Sharp was run into the boards on a clean hit but was immediately in pain and struggled to get off the ice. He went straight to the dressing room and did not return.
The Hawks were flat throughout the first 40 minutes. Shaw got the Hawks on the board with a powerplay goal in the first, tipping a Brent Seabrook blast past Semyon Varlamov.
But John Mitchell tied the score at 18:20 in the first, and the teams went to their respective dressing rooms with a 1-1 tie on the board.
In the second, Matt Duchene scored his eighth of the season and the Avs dominated an emotionless Hawks team. For only the fourth time this year, the Blackhawks trailed after two.
The third started with the Blackhawks showing the same lack of spark that was frustrating through the first two periods. But after Michal Rozsival went to the box for hooking Duchene on a breakaway, Jonathan Toews scored a short-handed goal to tie the game and wake up the United Center.
Many had already started to accept that the Blackhawks were headed for another overtime game, but Daniel Carcillo put a rebound in the net with only 49 seconds left on the clock to put the Avs away.
Seabrook had a big night for the Hawks. He skated only 20:46, but was credited with three blocked shots and five big hits.
The maturation of Brandon Saad continued to impress. With Sharp and Shaw out, Saad skated the biggest ice time of his young career (21:57) and had another assist. Saad now has six points (one goal, five assists) in the Hawks’ last five games.
Ray Emery stopped 20 of 22 shots to set an NHL record, starting the 2013 season with a 10-0-0 record.
After the game, coach Joel Quenneville indicated Hossa was close to playing (he warmed up before Wednesday night’s game), and could be back on Friday night. He did, however, indicate that Shaw is a wait-and-see situation, and Sharp ”may miss some time” (not good).
The streak continues, but the injury bug may complicate things for the Blackhawks moving forward.