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Blackhawks fall 5-2 to Avalanche

Chicago outshot Colorado 36-23, but costly turnovers played a key role in the loss.

Colorado Avalanche v Chicago Blackhawks
Ryan Graves of the Colorado Avalanche puts a puck past Olli Maatta of the Chicago Blackhawks
Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

The Blackhawks followed two of their best games, a home-and-home with the Stars, with one of their worst, losing 5-2 to the Avalanche on Friday at the United Center.

The game started out poorly, and the Blackhawks never got back on the right track. Patrick Kane gave up a giveaway to J.T. Compher within the first minute of the game, and Nathan MacKinnon tipped it in at the net-front to make it a 1-0 game.

About two minutes later, Ryan Graves would get another goal for the Avalanche as Corey Crawford couldn’t slide quick enough to defend a rebound.

Zack Smith would score to make it a 2-1 game after a great bit of forechecking by Ryan Carpenter forced the Avalanche to turn the puck over and Carpenter got the puck to Smith at the doorstep.

Colorado would get their two-goal lead back three minutes later as Cale Makar scored on the power play after Erik Gustafsson took his first bad penalty in this game. Chicago allowed the Avalanche to get multiple screens and provided a few of their own on the shot, and Crawford had no chance:

Within 1:41 in the middle of the second period, the Avalanche doubled their lead, scoring two goals. Valeri Nichushkin scored on a breakaway after a bad Gustafsson turnover and Compher scored off an assist by MacKinnon on an odd-man rush.

The Blackhawks played a horrible game in front of Crawford throughout the first 40 minutes, contributing to just eight saves being made on 13 chances. Those 13 shots were more quality than they usually would be, and while Crawford had a definite down game after Tuesday’s monster performance, the squad ahead of him couldn’t complete passes, made bad giveaways, gave up too many odd-man breakaways and hurt themselves far too often.

Patrick Kane would keep his 14-game point streak alive to end the second period, getting the puck off a rebound by Pavel Francouz and tucking it in to make the game’s score 5-2.

A great play by Brent Seabrook at the offensive zone blue line kept the puck in the zone for Brandon Saad, whose shot gets redirected by Jonathan Toews, and Kane is able to collect a juicy rebound and find a way to an open net.

Duncan Keith would get hurt on the Nichushkin goal, and would miss the remainder of the game, starting about halfway through. It remains to be seen what this means for the next game on Saturday in Colorado, but it’s likely not good news. With Connor Murphy now on the third pairing, Keith has been the Blackhawks’ most important defenseman and him missing time would be brutal.

The Blackhawks drove possession throughout this game, had more chances, but couldn’t find more ways to get through Francouz and the Avalanche. They didn’t control the Avalanche’s chances as much as they should have, either, with the bad plays the Blackhawks’ defense gave up being the ones that led directly to goals.

The only players without a goal against in this game were the fourth line, who also scored a goal for the Blackhawks. All three — Ryan Carpenter, Zack Smith or Matthew Highmore — had solid games in terms of possession, and likely should have been given more minutes.

Game Charts

Puck possession flow chart (5-on-5)
Natural Stat Trick
Shot heat map (All situations)
Natural Stat Trick

Three Stars

1. Nathan MacKinnon (COL) — 1 goal, 3 assists, 2 shots

2. J.T. Compher (COL) — 1 goal, 2 assists, 1 shot

3. Cale Makar (COL) — GWG, 2 shots

What’s next?

The Blackhawks face the Avalanche at 8 p.m. Saturday at Pepsi Center.