Hockey is a played for 60 minutes, but sometimes just one of those minutes ends up deciding a game. That was the case tonight, as just 77 seconds into the first period at the United Center, the Colorado Avalanche had a 2-0 lead, and that would be all they needed to take down the Blackhawks.
A bad rebound given up from Corey Crawford, followed by a lackluster recovery and a really nice shot from a pretty bad angle by Nathan MacKinnon put the Avs up 1-0 just 53 seconds into the game. About 20 seconds later, MacKinnon left the 'Hawks defensemen in the dust on a breakaway before making a cheeky pass to Maxim Talbot, who's shot snuck past Crawford and just past the line, never even hitting the back of the goal. 2-0, Avs; it'd be all she wrote.
The Blackhawks battled back well, getting 54 shots on goal and outshooting Colorado 37-13 in the final 40 minutes, but Semyon Varlamov, as he seems to nearly always do against the 'Hawks, stood tall, earning the shutout. It also never really felt like the 'Hawks had a great scoring chance, in spite of those 54 shots on goal. It's the 'Hawks first loss to the Avs this season.
This horse has probably been beaten enough, but it's yet another bad start for the 'Hawks costing them a game. At the start of this season, they dominated the opening frames, and struggled in the second period. Second periods were frustrating then, but that was nothing compared to these slow starts. Giving up the first goal of a game every now and again isn't the worst thing ever, especially for a team with such a strong defense and often-explosive offense like the 'Hawks. But the 'Hawks have done so in each of their last 6 games, with 5 of those opening goals coming within in the first 10 minutes of the first period. The 'Hawks have trailed their opponent after the first period in four of those games, and have a record of 3-3-0 in them, with just one of those wins being in regulation. Not the best.
Obviously this is a trend that needs to change, along with a few others. But at the same time, I'm not gonna worry too much over it. The 'Hawks still sit pretty comfortably in second place in the Central Division, and tonight was just the 40th game of the season. There's more than half of a regular season left for them to figure this out. There have been other issues for the 'Hawks this season that they have figured out, and I see no reason why this won't be another one of those things. It's what championship caliber teams do.
The 'Hawks next game is Thursday night, as they travel north to take on the Minnesota Wild. Puck drop for that one is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CT.
Adam Hess is the editor and publisher of Feathers in the Hat, and a contributor to Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter at @FeathersInDaHat.