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Get Out of Denver: Avalanche 5, Blackhawks 2

About what you expected, right?

COLORADO AVALANCHE VS CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS, NHL Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

None of this was a surprise, was it?

The Chicago Blackhawks opened the season against the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night in Denver, losing 5-2.

Colorado struck first at the 13:44 mark of the opening period when a Jujhar Khaira turnover led to a Devon Toews shot on goal that Andrew Cogliano deflected into the net:

Two minutes later, with the Blackhawks on the power play, Jonathan Toews buried a shot into an open net after a slick pass from birthday boy Philipp Kurashev:

That was the end of most of the good feelings in this game for Blackhawks fans. Valeri Nichushkin scored on the power play just 75 seconds later to give the Avalanche a 2-1 advantage heading into the first intermission. Artturi Lehkonen added a pair of power-play goals in the second to make it a 4-1 game.

Early in the third, Max Domi brought the Hawks back within two when he tapped home this neat pass from Tyler Johnson:

But that was as close as it got, with Nichushkin adding another power-play goal late — the Avs FOURTH score with the man advantage of the night.

Let’s talk about it:

Notes

  • Toews looked pretty good in this one, scoring the goal above while winning 10 of his 14 faceoffs in 14:13. He had some moments of looking disinterested during the preseason, but he’d be far from the first veteran to coast through games that don’t mean anything. Hopefully there’s more of that version of Toews coming this season.
  • The pass from Kurashev to Toews for that goal was sublime, and Kurashev had another sweet pass out to Seth Jones on the point later in the game that the broadcast said was inches away from a goal. That’s the type of playmaking we hope to see from Kurashev all season.
  • One downside of having so much power-play time for each side is that it felt like some guys never had a chance to get into a 5-on-5 rhythm. For example: the box score tells me that Taylor Raddysh played in 15:50, but I’m hard pressed to remember anything that happened during it.
  • During that 5-on-5 play, though, the Blackhawks actually had a higher percentage of the expected goal share at 53.9 percent. Part of that can be attributed to score effects, sure. But Colorado did score four PPGs and the only 5-on-5 goal they scored was the direct result of a bad Khaira turnover. The Hawks didn’t feel like a complete disaster at even-strength, even if they were still clearly outgunned.
  • Back to the ol’ drawing board on the penalty kill, eh?
  • Colorado is a better team than Chicago. This should serve as a surprise to exactly no one. Let’s see what this thing looks like in the next few games against lesser opponents like the Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks.

Game Charts

Three Stars

  1. Artturi Lehkonen (COL) — 2 goals, 1 assist
  2. Valeri Nichuskin (COL) — 2 goals
  3. Mikko Rantanen (COL) — 4 assists

What’s next?

The Blackhawks stay out west to face the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night for a 9 p.m. puck drop.