Hawks never recover from ugly first period in opening night loss to Avs

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury gives up a goal to Colorado Avalanche defenseman Jack Johnson in the first period on Wednesday in Denver. Despite the Avs missing one of their best players, the Blackhawks were steam-rolled during an ugly first period that saw Colorado score three times in just over five minutes.

    Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury gives up a goal to Colorado Avalanche defenseman Jack Johnson in the first period on Wednesday in Denver. Despite the Avs missing one of their best players, the Blackhawks were steam-rolled during an ugly first period that saw Colorado score three times in just over five minutes. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 10/14/2021 9:59 AM

Although the Blackhawks opened the season against the Stanley Cup-favorite Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, they caught a break when it was announced superstar forward Nathan MacKinnon would miss the game because of COVID issues.

MacKinnon's absence figured to give the Hawks a chance to jump on the Avs early, plant a seed of doubt and pave the way to a stunning opening-night upset.

 

Instead, it was coach Jeremy Colliton's team that was steam-rolled during an ugly first period that saw Colorado score three times in just over five minutes. The Avs went on to claim a 4-2 victory.

Beforehand, Colliton warned that Colorado is far from "a one-player team."

"They have depth, they have speed, they have offensive weapons everywhere," he said. "They're an excellent team and we're going to need to perform at our best to compete."

The Hawks were far from their best in the opening stanza, allowing Jack Johnson to open the scoring at 4:26, Gabriel Landeskog to make it 2-0 at 5:48 and rookie defenseman Bowen Byram to make it 3-0 at 9:34.

Dominik Kubalik got the Hawks within 3-1 when scored at 16:47 of the first, but Colorado restored its 3-goal lead late in the second period.

Connor Murphy scored with 4:29 remaining to make it 4-2. The Hawks then had a power-play chance, but failed to cash in.

Kubalik (4 shots on goal), Kirby Dach (5 SOG) and Jake McCabe (4 hits) were among the few Hawks who impressed.

The Hawks continue their opening three-game road trip with games at New Jersey on Friday and Pittsburgh on Saturday.

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