The Colorado Avalanche agreed with that Chicago Blackhawks for the second time in less than a week. Once again they found themselves at the top on Friday night with a dramatic 6-4 win.
The Avs appeared to be in control for most of the game until the third period, when the Blackhawks exploded for four goals. It would take two empty goals from Nazem Kadri and Cale Makar to end the game in the dying minutes.
The first section was a goalkeeper duel. Pavel Francouz, who had to eliminate opponents in the last two games, tried to maintain this statistic and kept it in the period. His counterpart, Marc-Andre Fleury, did Marc-Andre Fluery stuff and played at his high level.
There wasn’t much going on for the Avs, but Logan O’Connor missed a penalty runaway waiting for the seventh goal of the year, shorthanded. Although the Avs and Blackhawks went down 11-6 in the first game, both had goose eggs on the board.
It finally got going in the second third. A power play that had continued since the end of the first period benefited the Avs as captain Gabriel capitalized on Landeskog to put his team ahead.
Alex Newhook also wanted to get involved. The birthday boy got a nice pass from Kadri behind the net and put it past Fleury to make it 2-0, which was disallowed for offside.
JT Compher then played his part, dropping the gloves with Brandon Hagel in a good fight down the middle on the ice. Hometown boy Compher then got on the scoreboard and put the puck in the slot to make it 2-0 and the Avs saw the lead and went into the third
The Avs seemed better positioned early in the third period as Landeskog scored another power play goal in the first 1:15 of the frame to extend the lead to 3-0.
From here it went at full speed. That Landeskog goal added three more goals for a total of four in 1:38. Let’s go through them quickly: Hagel scored his 12th goal of the season to make it 3-1 with a deflection in front of Francouz. Patrick Kane then went 200 feet and tipped one home on a pass to reduce the deficit to one. Luckily, birthday boy Newhook scored his goal counting on a 2v1 with Kadri to make it 4-2.
The Avs just wanted to calm things down and take back command of this game. Things got physical and Chicago tried to disrupt the Avs’ eight-game winning streak. Kane scored his second goal of the game while waiting for Francouz and gave life to Chicago, just one with 4-3 and 6:00 left.
With Fleury drawn, the Avs seemed to have ended the game as Kadri went down the ice and scored the empty net goal after a icing on the cake from Mikko Rantanen to make it 5-3.
But Chicago was still not finished yet. They kept pushing and creating goal-mouth scrambles with players everywhere. Somehow, somehow, Hagel got his second of the game, squeaking softly over the goal line and keeping Chicago in contention 5-4.
Eventually, Cale Makar took matters into his own hands and scored another empty goal, sending it into the gaping net on ice. He’s now scored again in consecutive games and now desperately finished it off at 6-4.
The Avs almost suffered a third period slump again. We all remember the meltdowns they had in the closing stages early in the season but seemed to have pushed that trend aside lately. It almost came up again tonight, but they held out that dramatic third period and ended up being shot 43-27 wide.
Kadri put on a phenomenal game and made a big step forward in the absence of Nathan MacKinnon. He had one goal and three assists for the win. MacKinnon’s line-mates also had a great game, with Landeskog scoring two goals and an assist. Rantanen also had two assists despite not finding the net. The Avs will be fine without MacKinnon for at least the next three games.
Compher also had a nice game, recording a hat-trick from Gordie Howe in his hometown. There were rumors that he would be on the trading block at the close of trading, but this was a statement game for him. He helped his team in their ninth straight game and 14th win in January, the most January wins in the NHL of all time.
The one-game road trip for the Avs ends as quickly as it began. They start a three-game home stand, with the NHL All Star Break split between games two and three. Game one of the home stands is against them buffalo saber this Sunday night at 6:00 p.m. MT.