DENVER – Almost lost in the Chicago Blackhawks’ historic points streak was a streak of another kind.
This one is still going, too.
And this one the Colorado Avalanche couldn’t stop, either.
Ray Emery had 17 saves to remain unbeaten this season, helping Chicago knock off Colorado 5-2 on Monday night in the first meeting since the Avalanche halted the Blackhawks’ record points streak.
Emery, the backup to Corey Crawford, wasn’t tested all that often by the Avs but he came up big when needed to improve to 11-0-0 this season.
“I just want to play well. Each and every game is a new team, a new challenge and I just treat it as I want to win one game at a time,” Emery said. “I thought we played really well.”
Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews provided the offence with a goal and two assists apiece for the Blackhawks, who’ve embarked on yet another streak: They’ve won three straight to move to 3-2-0 after their NHL-record 21-0-3 start to the season was ended in the Mile High City on March 8.
In that game, Emery replaced Crawford in the third period. This time, Emery had everything under control.
“They’re a good team, a quick team,” Emery said. “We had the lead early on and I thought we played really well.”
That’s because the Blackhawks were a highly motivated bunch.
“Them ending our streak, we wanted to get a little bit of redemption and know that we can beat a team like this,” Kane said. “It’s nice to kind of beat them like that.”
The Avalanche are on a streak, too, only going the wrong way. They’ve dropped a season-worst four in a row.
“It’s been a tough week no doubt. But we’re the guys that dug ourselves this hole,” said captain Gabriel Landeskog, who scored the first short-handed goal of his career in the opening period. “We’ve got to dig ourselves out of it. We win together and we lose together. That’s the way it is.”
Chicago had another big offensive night highlighted by Kane, the team’s leading scorer. He nearly had another goal on a breakaway early in the third period, only to be turned away by the left pad of Semyon Varlamov.
Jimmy Hayes and Andrew Shaw scored 57 seconds apart in the first period to get things going and Brent Seabrook later contributed another. Toews then added a late insurance goal to wrap up the win.
“We did a heck of a job rolling four lines and no one got caught out there,” said Toews, whose team scored a season-best eight goals in a win at Dallas on Saturday. “Sometimes, with elevation, you get caught on a long shift and that can get to you, but we were smart about our changes and those little details and it showed in our team game.”
The victory may have been pricey, though, as Marian Hossa left the game after taking a hit in the first period. He’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury, coach Joel Quenneville said.
It’s the second player the Blackhawks have lost against the Avalanche. Patrick Sharp appeared to hurt his shoulder after being checked along the boards by Colorado’s Ryan O’Byrne on March 6 in Chicago. There’s no timetable yet for Sharp’s return.
So, do the Blackhawks pay attention to those types of hits?
“You’re aware of what’s going on,” Quenneville said. “You do what you’ve got to do.”
With Hossa sidelined, that meant Kane had to turn in some double shifts.
“I asked him a couple of times (how he was doing), when he looked like he might’ve been out of breath,” Quenneville said. “A couple of times, he even laughed at me. He likes to go. He had the puck a lot tonight. He was dangerous.”
That he was. But really, what’s new?
Chicago began with a flurry of goals, starting with Hayes backhanding a shot past Varlamov for his first of the season. Hayes was just recently called up from Rockford of the AHL.
Moments later, Shaw beat Varlamov with a wrist shot.
Emery came up big in the opening period, with a little help from Niklas Hjalmarsson. On a play where Emery was sprawled out on the ice, the defenceman slid over and prevented a potential goal by blocking a wrist shot with his left leg.
The Avalanche got on the board with 33.4 seconds remaining in the first period when Landeskog scored a short-handed goal. The young captain took a pass from Matt Duchene and simply flew by Seabrook on his way to the goal.
Seabrook took a seat on the bench for a good portion of the second period, only to return and score his fifth goal of the season on a slap shot.
As to why the Avalanche seem to give Chicago so much trouble of late, Kane had a simple explanation: Colorado is one of the few teams that can actually match the Blackhawks’ swift speed.
“It’s like when we came into the league—we were young and youthful and trying to prove something,” Kane said. “I’m sure that’s the same way with the Avalanche.”
Notes: Chicago won the season series against Colorado, 2-1-0. … Avs G Semyon Varlamov earned his first assist on a pass that set up a goal from F Milan Hejduk in the second period. … Avs F Cody McLeod took a puck to the face in the third period and was helped off the ice.