About seven hours before puck drop at the United Center, Matt Duchene sat in the Avalanche dressing room and spoke of the Blackhawks as being an example of how to play in the NHL.
“A great kind of big brother team for us to look at is the Chicago Blackhawks,” Duchene said. “They play a great brand of hockey. They take care of their own end but when it’s time to go on offense they go and make teams panic.”
Little brother didn’t panic in the face of a Hawks shot onslaught as Tyson Barrie scored in overtime to lead the Avalanche to a 3-2 victory before a crowd of 21,412. Barrie and Ryan O’Reilly had goals in regulation for the Avs, who got a sparkling performance from goaltender Semyon Varlamov to defeat the Hawks for the second time in three times this season
The Hawks rallied from a two-goal, first-period deficit with scores from Johnny Oduya and Andrew Shaw but in the end, netminder Corey Crawford suffered the loss as the defending Stanley Cup champions dropped to 30-8-11 on the season. The Hawks sent a total of 88 shots toward the Avalanche goal, including 48 that reached Varlamov.
The Hawks dominated all but about a minute of the opening period but when the horn sounded for the first intermission found themselves trailing 2-0.
Varlamov was tested early and kept the Hawks off the scoreboard with strong saves on Bryan Bickell, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Brent Seabrook and a big stop on a short-handed breakaway by Ben Smith.
At the other end, Crawford wasn’t tested often but the Avs took the lead with a seeing-eye shot from the point by Barrie that found its way through a maze of players and into the net.
Just 1:02 later, Colorado made it a two-goal bulge when O’Reilly scored on the power play. With Kris Versteeg in the box for hooking, the Avs took all of :10 to score when O’Reilly converted following a nifty passing sequence from Jamie McGinn to Nick Holden to O’Reilly in front where he spun and fired the puck past Crawford.
Not long after, Crawford stopped the bleeding with a strong save on a Marc-Andre Cliche rush that Patrick Sharp helped disrupt from behind.
Seconds after Varlamov flashed his glove to absolutely rob Patrick Kane on a one-timer from the right circle in the second period, the Hawks finally solved the Avs netminder.
Brandon Saad controlled the puck in the offensive zone, skated into the slot and ripped a wrist shot that deflected off Oduya and bounded past Varlamov.
In the third, the Hawks evened the score when Shaw corralled a rebound in the slot, spun and fired the puck just inside the left post.
Barrie scored off a one-timer with from the left circle :50.7 in overtime.
The Hawks entered the game with a nine-point lead over the up-and-coming Avs in the Central Division and had the admiration of Duchene, one of Colorado’s top players.
“I think every team should look at Chicago and the way they play,” he said. “They take 60 minutes and they go for the win, they go for your throat and that’s the way we want to play.”
Michal Rozsival served as the Hawks’ sixth defenseman with Michael Kostka and Sheldon Brookbank scratched. The Avalanche were without Paul Stastny, Cory Sarich and Jean-Sebastien Giguere.