DENVER – Robert Lang and Patrick Kane kept the Chicago Blackhawks on the road to recovery.
Lang and Kane scored in a shootout and Patrick Lalime had 22 saves to lift Chicago to a 2-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night, giving Chicago its third straight win after losing eight in a row.
“We went through a little skid,” Lang said. “The last three games people stepped up and filled the gaps for the guys that are missing.”
Milan Hejduk scored the only shootout goal for Colorado, which had its three-game winning streak end.
Kane scored twice in Wednesday’s win over St. Louis, and he had Chicago’s only regulation goal Friday night. The rookie has 12 goals and 44 points this year, 12 points more than teammate Jonathan Toews in the rookie scoring race.
His goal Friday came on the first shot of the game. He got behind the Avalanche defenders, Martin Havlat hit him with a pass at Colorado’s blue-line, and he beat Jose Theodore just 2:32 in.
“I tried to find a seam and he found me right going right down the middle,” Kane said. “I thought I got hooked, but I got a shot off and it went in.”
Andrew Brunette tied it midway through the first period when he knocked in his own rebound over Lalime for his ninth goal of the season.
Each team had chances to take the lead in the second period. Rene Bourque got a step on the Colorado defence as he entered the Avalanche zone, but before he could get off a shot, defenceman John-Michael Liles made a diving poke check.
Later in the period, Hejduk’s shot rebounded off Lalime to Brunette, but he missed the open net.
“It was kind of bouncing around,” Brunette said. “I really didn’t get much wood on it.”
The Avalanche played without centre Paul Stastny, who will miss at least two weeks after having an appendectomy Thursday. Stastny was selected to represent the Avalanche in the all-star Game in Atlanta on Jan. 27 but will not play.
The loss of Stastny, combined with injuries to Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth, means Colorado has lost three of its top four forwards for a significant stretch.
“It’s a real good test for us,” Brunette said. “It’s a good chance for a lot of our young guys to get a chance to play and prove themselves in this league.”
The Blackhawks know what Colorado is going through. Forward Jason Williams will be out at least six weeks after he had surgery Friday to repair a sports hernia, and Toews missed his ninth straight game with a sprained knee suffered Jan. 1. He isn’t expected back for at least two weeks.
“We have our own list on the IR,” Lalime said. “This is building depth for us.”
It’s also building momentum. During their losing streak, the Blackhawks lost six games by two goals or less. Now they’re starting to win the close games – with Lalime in the net.
“The difference has been our goaltending,” Chicago coach Denis Savard said.
Lalime had to make some big saves in the first period. Colorado had 13 shots in the first 20 minutes but managed just 10 for the rest of regulation and overtime.
“I thought we worked hard and did a good job throughout the game,” Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville said. “I’m not disappointed with the effort or how we played. I certainly would have liked two (points).”
Notes: Kane has four points (two goals, two assists) in two games against Colorado this season. … Brunette and Hejduk extended their points streaks to four games. … Theodore, starting his seventh straight game, made 22 saves. … Avalanche D Kurt Sauer (neck) skated Friday and could return to the lineup soon. Sauer has been out since suffering a neck injury at San Jose on Nov. 30. … The Avalanche have lost 154 man-games to injury this season.