Ailing Avs still able to sock it to Blackhawks
Imagine if the Blackhawks lost Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat for more than a month.
And Ryan Carpenter for three weeks. And then Andrew Shaw went down.
Chances are, things would get real ugly real fast.
But that's not what's happening to Colorado, which continues to win hockey games and make its way up the standings despite being riddled by injuries to key players for over a month.
Colorado's impressive stretch continued against the Blackhawks at the United Center on Friday as the Avs built a 3-1 first-period lead and went on to win 5-2. It was the Avs' seventh win in 10 games and pushed them to 15-8-2, 7 points ahead of the Blackhawks (10-10-5) in the Central Division.
The two teams square off again in Colorado on Saturday.
"It's a big division game and we didn't give ourselves a sniff the entire night," said Hawks captain Jonathan Toews.
Colorado has been without Mikko Rantanen (60 goals last two seasons) since Oct. 21, Gabriel Landeskog (59 goals, 111 assists last two seasons) since Oct. 29, and center Colin Wilson since Nov. 7. Then, forward Andre Burakovsky (11 goals in 24 games) was hurt Wednesday.
The spate of injuries means coach Jared Bednar has had to get contributions from four players -- one of whom is former Chicago Wolves forward T.J. Tynan -- who began the season in the AHL.
"It's been crazy," said Tynan, who led the AHL with 59 assists last season. "I don't think I've ever been part of a team that's had the injury bug like this."
Said Toews: "Obviously they stick to their team game. It's something we can take with us that no matter what we (should) stick with our game. You're not going to play your best hockey every single night, but you've got to stick to your system and your approach."
Colorado took a 2-0 lead after just 3:17, but Zack Smith gave the Hawks hope by pounding in his first goal of the season at 9:14 of the first period.
But the game turned for good when Avs defenseman Cale Makar scored 11 seconds after Erik Gustafsson took an interference penalty at 12:20 of the first.
"Well, he's trying to hold up and probably could have made a different decision," coach Jeremy Colliton said of Gustafsson, who was also beaten on the Avs' fourth goal. "But he wasn't the only who made mistakes. There was quite a few out there and a few of them ended up in the back of our net."
Northbrook product J.T. Compher, who also had 2 assists, made it 5-1 at 11:26 of the second period. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and 3 assists.
About the only bright spot for the Hawks was Patrick Kane extending his point streak to 14 games by scoring his 13th goal of the season with 3.5 seconds remaining in the second period. The streak is the longest in the NHL this season.
Corey Crawford, who shut out Dallas on Tuesday, stopped just 9 of 14 shots through two periods and finished with 18 saves.
Now the Hawks must bounce back quickly against the same hungry, hardworking, speedy opponent in the thin mile-high air.
"We've played really well on the road as of late," Toews said. "We played a really fast, hard game in Dallas where we gave ourselves a chance to win in overtime.
"So we can take that same mentality, some approach in Colorado tomorrow."
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