DENVER – Tomas Fleischmann made quite a first impression in front of the home crowd.
Playing in his inaugural game at Pepsi Center as a member of the Avalanche, Fleischmann scored a goal and assisted on Matt Duchene’s winner as Colorado rallied to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 7-5 on Monday night.
Colorado trailed 5-4 with 2:24 remaining, but Fleischmann tied the game, beating Corey Crawford with a shot into the corner of the net.
He was just warming up.
Just 60 seconds later, Fleischmann delivered a precise pass to Duchene after skating out from behind the net, setting up the winning goal.
And, for good measure, the forward also had an assist on Ryan O’Reilly’s empty netter in the waning moments.
Not a bad beginning for Fleischmann, who was acquired from the Washington Capitals on Nov. 30, just before the Avalanche set out on a five-game trip.
The thin air, though, might have taken a toll on him. At least it did in the estimation of Colorado coach Joe Sacco.
“He was one of the guys I thought looked a little tired up until the end,” Sacco said. “But good for him, he found his legs. He started skating. He and (Duchene), they got something going there.”
Especially on the game-winner, with Duchene quick to credit Fleischmann for setting up the play.
“I was open for a second and he knew it was going to close off,” Duchene said. “He’s a smart player, he waited until I came around, snuck in behind (Patrick) Sharp. He put it on my tape, and all I had to do was put it on the net.”
Brandon Yip, Paul Stastny and Cody McLeod also had goals for the high-octane Avalanche, now the NHL’s highest-scoring team after tying a season high with seven goals.
The Avalanche chased starter Marty Turco from the game 40 seconds into the second period, but struggled to get anything past Crawford—until the final minutes.
The sudden meltdown was hard for Crawford and the Blackhawks to explain.
“It’s brutal. I don’t think anyone wants to lose like that,” Crawford said. “Wow. Just fall apart in the last two minutes there.”
Troy Brouwer scored twice for the Blackhawks, including the go-ahead goal with 8:17 remaining. He reached his stick up in front of the net and directed the puck past Craig Anderson. Replay officials took a long look at the goal—making sure Brouwer’s stick wasn’t higher than the crossbar.
Given the way Crawford was playing, Brouwer’s goal looked like it might stand up.
And then came the collapse.
“It was one of those games that got away from you, and you feel like you got kicked in the guts,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Three, four minutes left you have a one-goal lead, whether you deserve it or not we still have to find a way to get something out of the game. That’s why it leaves such a bitter taste.”
Jack Skille, Bryan Bickell and Jeremy Morin also scored for the Blackhawks.
This was a night Turco would rather forget. He allowed four goals on only 10 shots before being pulled.
Anderson had a rough evening in, as well, but escaped with a win.
“Sweeps everything else under the rug,” said Anderson, who started his fourth straight game. “I could be better; I’ve got to make some first-shot saves. At the same time, our guys did a great job of clawing away to win.”
NOTES: Colorado recalled D Kevin Montgomery from Lake Erie of the American Hockey League, but he didn’t play. … These teams will meet again on Wednesday night in Chicago. … Fleischmann had his first three-point game since January. … Colorado is 6-1 against Central Division teams. … Yip scored 48 seconds in, the Avalanche’s quickest goal this season. … The injury-riddled Avalanche were without Milan Hejduk (groin) and Kyle Quincey (shoulder). Hejduk is listed as day-to-day, and Quincey will be re-evaluated this week to judge the severity of his injury.