The Blackhawks scored four straight goals in the third period, including two in 28 seconds, for a 5-3 comeback win against the Avalanche on Saturday at Pepsi Center.
Jonathan Toews collected his fourth multi-point game in his last eight games with a goal and two assists and Robin Lehner secured his third straight win with 28 saves on 31 shots.
How it Happened
The Avalanche opened up the scoring six minutes into the first period after a strong penalty kill by the Blackhawks. Joonas Donskoi picked up the puck behind the goal line and threw it to the front of the net. The puck took a fortunate bounce and deflected right to Ryan Graves who one-timed it off Olli Maatta and through Lehner’s five-hole:
Not much later, Alex DeBrincat had Chicago’s most dangerous scoring chance of the opening period. At the tail end of a solid offensive zone shift by the DeBrincat - Kirby Dach - Ryan Carpenter line, the Cat rifled a shot from the slot, but was denied by a sprawled out Philipp Grubauer.
Then near the end of the first period, Nathan MacKinnon appeared to knock in his own rebound, but it was ruled a kicking motion by the referees and the goal was disallowed:
This Nathan MacKinnon goal *should* count, but he plays for Kroenke's hockey team not the soccer team. No goal for you. pic.twitter.com/vQttx5wkil— Second City Hockey (@2ndCityHockey) December 22, 2019
At the opening faceoff of the second period, Patrick Kane took Dylan Sikura’s spot on the top line and immediately made an impact. Toews deflected a Colorado breakout attempt to Kane who then backhanded a hard pass to Toews driving the net. The captain roofed the puck under the bar for his eighth goal of the season:
Then 2:19 minutes after Chicago tied it up, a defensive zone breakdown behind the Blackhawks net gave Matt Calvert free real estate right outside the blue paint. The puck inevitably found him and he poked it through Lehner’s five hole to put the Avalanche up 2-1:
The rest of the second period was one of the best periods the Blackhawks have played in a while.
Gabriel Landeskog challenged Dennis Gilbert to a fight for an earlier hit Gilbert laid on him and Gilbert didn’t back down:
Gabriel Landeskog takes exception to an earlier hit and fights Dennis Gilbert pic.twitter.com/oNnfJwBsZo— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) December 22, 2019
Chicago’s bench was pumped up and they used that emotion and momentum to take control of the game. The Blackhawks were flying around finishing their checks, including two massive hits by Duncan Keith and Zach Smith (got revenge on Samuel Girard for his hit on DeBrincat). Kirby Dach made a handful of impressive plays and the fourth line had multiple extended shifts in the offensive zone.
However, Calvert picked up his second goal of the period with 51 seconds remaining in the middle frame by banking the puck off Lehner’s pads from behind the goal line:
Calvert's second goal of the second period for the Avalanche. pic.twitter.com/8wGuoM5rAY— Second City Hockey (@2ndCityHockey) December 22, 2019
It’s was a tough end to a period that saw the Blackhawks outshoot the Avalanche 15 to 10 and outchance them 16 to 8, per Natural Stat Trick.
Midway through the third period the Blackhawks finally got the goal they deserved. After a nice offensive zone entry by Toews and Dominik Kubalik, Kane got the puck, streaked across the high slot and sniped it past Grubauer:
Twenty-eight seconds later, Erik Gustafsson flew into the offensive zone on a 2-on-1 with Dach after a nice pass from Ryan Carpenter in the neutral zone. Gustafsson snapped it backdoor to Dach who made a tough reception and broke his 16 game goal drought to tie the game 3-3:
Dach had arguably his best game this season with a goal on four shots, two takeaways and a 52.6 Corsi-For at 5-on-5 in 14:49 minutes of ice time:
Dach is on fire tonight. Has an extra step and has been strong on his stick all game. Using his body and hips really well to protect the puck near the boards. Pretty exciting to watch and think of where his game could be in 2-3 years #Blackhawks— Second City Hockey (@2ndCityHockey) December 22, 2019
Kubalik completed the comeback with 3:18 remaining after Toews spun around the net and found the Czech winger open in the high slot:
Murphy sealed the deal with an empty netter following a huge pad save by Lehner on Erik Johnson:
This was the Blackhawks biggest win of the season. Let’s see if this starts a prolonged stretch of solid play. The ingredients were demonstrated in the second and third period. Now it’s just about consistently repeating that effort.
1. Jonathan Toews (CHI) - One goal, two assists, won 15-of-21 faceoffs
2. Matt Calvert (COL) - Two goals
3. Kirby Dach (CHI) - Game-tying goal, four shots, two takeaways