DENVER, CO – Having already locked up the top spot in both the Central Division and the Western Conference, the Blackhawks are just going through the motions and looking to be healthy for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs late next week. On Tuesday night, the Blackhawks opened their final road trip of the season at the Pepsi Center in Denver for a date with the Colorado Avalanche.
Fresh off of being named the NHL’s First Star of the Week, Blackhawks winger Artemi Panarin got the Hawks on the board first with a second period goal, just 28 seconds into the period. The goal was the 30th of the season for Panarin, while Patrick Kane (54) and Jonathan Toews (38) each picked up assists on the play that gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead after both goalies played shutout hockey in the first period.
Ryan Hartman (19) and Marcus Kruger (5) would add a pair of goals for the Blackhawks in the second as well, giving the Hawks a commanding 3-0 lead halfway through the second period on Tuesday evening.
Then the Blackhawks apparently thought that the game was over, as they fell asleep and allowed the Avalanche to surge back into the game, with three unanswered goals of their own. The first was by Matt Duchene with 7:44 to play in the second period, his 18th goal of the season.
With just under three minutes to play, Gabriel Landeskog netted his 17th goal of the season to cut the Hawks lead to 3-2 at the time, before the Avalanche tied it up just over five minutes into the third period on the strength of a Mikhail Grigorenko goal, his 10th of the season.
With three minutes and change left in the overtime period, Erik Johnson slipped the Avs’ fourth unanswered goal past Corey Crawford to give Colorado the two points on Tuesday night. The Avalanche dominated the Hawks in the shots on goal department, 51-27 and nearly doubled the Blackhawks 35 percent face-off win percentage on the evening as the Hawks fell to 50-22-8 on the season.
Corey Crawford, despite taking the loss, saved 47 out of 51 shots in the contest.
The Blackhawks will head to Anaheim to take on the Ducks on Thursday evening before closing out the regular season schedule with a match-up with the Kings in Los Angeles on Saturday. Puck drop for Thursday night’s match-up with the Ducks is set for 9:00 pm (CT), and you can catch the action on CSN-Chicago, WGN-720AM, and the NBC Sports App.