Different week, different town, same result for the Chicago Blackhawks. The Colorado Avalanche beat the Hawks 3-2 on Wednesday night and leapfrogged them in the standings. Chicago is now trailing both St. Louis and Colorado and sit at third in the division.
Brad Malone put Colorado on the board first, scoring with 1:36 left in the first period. Then is took only 19 seconds into the second period for Matt Duchene to give the Avs a 2-0 lead. After that Chicago was in catch up mode, just like the game last week in Chicago.
Patrick Kane finally got the Hawks on the board at the 8:23 mark of the second. It was his 29th of the season and his second straight game with a goal. He has 4 points (2 goals & 2 assists) in his last five games and might finally be returning to his pre 2014 form.
The game stayed 2-1 until about half way through the third period. Andrew Shaw got leveled on a play and about 20 seconds later he came down the ice and committed a stupid penalty to give Colorado a power play. Then unfortunately for Chicago, Marcus Kruger accidently shot the puck over the board and received a delay of game penalty. That gave the Avs 91 seconds of a 5 on 3 power play. Ryan Reilly knocked in a rebound to extend Colorado's lead. It ended up being the game winner.
With 2:30 left in the game coach Joel Quenneville pulled Antti Raanta and 13 seconds later Brandon Saad scored his 19th of the season to cut the Avs lead to 1. The Hawks had a few more chances but were unable to get one by the wall that has been Varlamov.
Raanta stopped 26 of 29 shots. The power play went 0-3 and the penalty kill went 1-4 but again it is hard to kill a 5 on 3. The PK has now killed off 56 of their last 62 chances. The PP has converted only twice in their last 22 chances. Can Bryan Bickell really not help that?
For more on Bickell and Q playing Brookbank check out this piece I wrote.
The Hawks next host Nashville on Friday and Detroit on Sunday. As I said earlier they are now third in the central division but now also trail Anaheim and San Jose in the standings. That means they are now 5th in the Western conference.
Can they be a team that just flips the switch come playoff time and fix all the wrongs? I think everyone would feel more comfortable if they made some progress towards fixing those wrongs over the final 16 games.