The Colorado Avalanche visited the United Center for the first time in the 2016-17 season and ran into a red-hot Corey Crawford. The result: a fourth straight Blackhawks winner.
Crawford was outstanding once again, stopping 38 and allowing none. Chicago’s goaltender has allowed one goal in his last three games, stopping 103 of 104 shots. Yes, that’s good.
And the team in front of him has found a groove, improving in almost every aspect of the game. The Blackhawks have outscored their last two opponents – Calgary and Colorado – by a 9-1 margin.
The penalty kill, which started the year a dumpster fire, has successfully killed 12 of 13 penalties during the current four-game win streak. Against Colorado on Thursday night, Chicago killed off three penalties, two of which came in the first period.
Jonathan Toews got the party started with his second goal of the season at 14:25 into the first. Only 38 seconds later, Marian Hossa extended the lead to 2-0 with his fourth of the year. Artem Anisimov’s point streak lives for another day; he was credited with an assist on Hossa’s first goal.
Hossa came back with his second goal of the night and fifth of the season 55 seconds into the third period. With the goal, Hossa became the oldest Blackhawks player with a multi-goal game since Steve Thomas. He now has four goals in his last four games.
At 12:40 into the third, Artemi Panarin received a beautiful pass from Patrick Kane and put the final nail in the Colorado coffin.
Duncan Keith picked up two assists in the game, giving him nine already on the young season. Panarin (one goal, one assist) joined Keith and Hossa with a multi-point effort.
Ryan Hartman returned to the lineup and led the Hawks with three hits in only 9:54 on the ice. Michal Kempny, who has been a healthy scratch previously when Gustav Forsling returned from injury, replaced Michal Rozsival on Thursday and picked up two hits and two blocked shots in 18:26.
Dennis Rasmussen and Nick Schmaltz finished tied for the team lead with two takeaways against the Avalanche, and both got a few opportunities in the faceoff circle. Rasmussen won one of four and Schmaltz won two of five; Toews won only nine of 21 at the dot.
For Colorado, Semyon Varlamov allowed four goals against only 22 shots in the loss. The Avs out-shot the Hawks in all three periods, but weren’t able to beat Crawford.
The Hawks now look ahead to a home-and-home series on back-to-back nights with a banged-up Dallas squad on Saturday and Sunday.