Avs squander 2-goal lead
BLACKHAWKS 6, AVALANCHE 3 Blackhawks rally with five scores in third period to win.
chicago» For 50 minutes Sunday, the Avalanche looked like a team capable of beating just about anyone in the NHL.
But 34 seconds and one apparent botched replay later, the Avs once again were staring at a deficit against one of the best teams in hockey.
The Chicago Blackhawks rallied furiously with five third-period goals, including three in a span of 34 seconds midway through the period, en route to defeating the Avalanche 6-3 at the United Center.
What started as a promising game for Colorado and its young players turned into yet another defeat in the blink of an eye. The Avalanche (20-48-3) led 3-1 after two periods thanks to two goals from Mikhail Grigorenko and a tally from Sven Andrighetto. But Jonathan Toews scored his 19th and 20th goals of the season, and Richard Panik and Artemi Panarin scored in between to turn a twogoal lead into a two-goal deficit.
The rally started when Toews redirected in a point shot from Duncan Keith at 10:17 of the third period. Colorado coach Jared Bednar challenged the play, and video replays appeared to show Toews was offside before he later scored, but the linesmen upheld the call after a lengthy review.
“I don’t necessarily understand it, but it’s a tag-up rule,” Bednar said. “It wasn’t on his stick. That is what it is. For me, it’s 3-2, 9½ minutes to go, that gives them a little life. It’s what we do after that that bothers me.”
Panik scored the go-ahead goal 17 seconds later, and Panarin added an insurance tally after another 17 seconds. Toews scored again at 13:19, and Marcus Kruger found the empty net at 19:58.
After Patrick Kane struck first for the Blackhawks at 4:33 of the first period, Grigorenko responded at 8:14 by tucking away a rebound that Chicago goalie Scott Darling failed to control.
Seven minutes later, Grigorenko made the most of limited shooting space on a one-on-two and snapped a wrist shot that clanked in off the right post.
Blake Comeau and Carl Soderberg assisted on Grigorenko’s first goal. Tyson Barrie and Fedor Tyutin chipped in on the second. A day after sitting out Colorado’s loss at Detroit, Grigorenko replaced John Mitchell in the lineup and had his first two-goal game since Nov. 8, 2013, with Buffalo against Anaheim.
“There’s still 11 games left in the season. … Everyone has something to play for,” Grigorenko said. “I really wanted to make an impact and be sure to play good enough not to be scratched ever again.”
Andrighetto tipped in a shot from Mark Barberio at 16:24 of the second period to extend Colorado’s lead. Mikko Rantanen picked up the other assist.
The game was the first at the United Center for rookie J.T. Compher, who grew up in suburban Northbrook, Ill.
After an encouraging start to the game, rookie goalie Jeremy Smith dropped to 1-5 and allowed at least three goals for the sixth time in as many starts. He stopped 28 of the 33 shots he faced.
Tomas Jurco, right, of the Blackhawks controls the puck in front of the Avalanche’s Rene Bourque on Sunday at the United Center in Chicago. Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images