Changes don't derail Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago Blackhawks fans who turned on their TVs Tuesday night to watch their team take on the Colorado Avalanche could certainly be forgiven if they did a double take or two.
• First and foremost, Jonathan Toews served a one-game suspension for missing the All-Star Game on Sunday. In his place centering the top line was Teuvo Teravainen.
• Viktor Svedberg, called up from Rockford earlier Tuesday, played for injured veteran Michal Rozsival.
• Brandon Mashinter, a healthy scratch in 14 of the last 21 games, and Jiri Sekac, whom the Hawks recently acquired in a trade, were skating on the fourth line.
• And finally, Richard Panik took Marian Hossa's spot on the top line at right wing for much of the first period.
So how did it all look? Pretty good, actually.
The Hawks got off to a blazing start with first-period goals by Panik and Artemi Panarin. They also played an incredibly tight defensive game for the first 40 minutes and were bailed out by some stellar goaltending by Corey Crawford down the stretch of a 2-1 victory over the host Avalanche.
"I thought we did a real good job, a good start. Made a lot of safe plays, had the puck a lot," coach Joel Quenneville told reporters. "Like the contributions of a lot of guys stepping up in some bigger roles."
The Hawks, who had lost three of four before the All-Star Game, improved to 34-16-4.
"We were definitely on fumes going into (the break)," Quenneville said. "But nice to see us recapture the emotion and the pace."
Panik gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead just 2:57 into the game as Svedberg shot the puck off end boards, and Andrew Shaw fed Panik in front of the net.
"That's the area the goals are scored, so just wanted to go there and it went in," Panik told Comcast SportsNet.
Panik has 3 goals in just nine games since the Hawks acquired him in a trade with Toronto a month ago.
Panarin made it 2-0 at the 7:16 mark of the second period with a gorgeous, sweeping move in front of the net. The puck hit a defender's stick out front and caromed past Avs goalie Calvin Pickard, who made 40 saves.
Panarin's goal was made possible thanks to a perfect pass from Patrick Kane, who has 44 assists and 74 points.
Gabriel Landeskog scored the Avs' only goal of the game 2:43 after Panarin's tally.
The Hawks outshot the Avs 29-8 through two periods, then Crawford slammed the door by making 16 saves in the third period. Four came in a 10-second span early in the third. At one point during that crazy sequence, the puck slid just inches from the goal line and was nearly kicked in by Andrew Desjardins, who actually was behind Crawford and in the net.
Crawford's other huge save came when Landeskog blasted a shot that the Hawks' netminder swallowed up with just 59 seconds on the clock.
"He's been unbelievable," Shaw said of Crawford to Comcast SportsNet. "He sees everything. He gets a piece of every shot that comes through and makes those big-time saves."
Shaw has 16 assists, just 3 short of a career high. Shaw and Hossa led the Hawks with 5 shots on goal.