Blackhawks’ effort improves in an overtime loss to the Avalanche


CHICAGO – The return to play after a long break due to COVID-19 cases in the National Hockey League hasn’t been the best for the Blackhawks in the new year.

Against the Predators on New Year’s Day, the team had little resistance against the best team in the Central Division in a 6-1 loss in Nashville. Sunday wasn’t much better, as the Blackhawks lost to the Flames 5-1 at the United Center as they once again took the ice without their top two goaltenders.

But Tuesday’s game against Colorado, the third-place team in the Central Division with 40 points, the effort was quite a bit better, and nearly ended up being one of the better wins of the year for the hosts.

Alex DeBrincat helped to spur a rally for the Blackhawks in the third period, scoring a pair of goals in the span of 40 seconds to give his team the lead. Unfortunately, they couldn’t hold it, with the Avalanche tying the game late in the third then winning in overtime on an impressive effort by Cale Maker to pull out the 4-3 win.

His impressive turnaround at the boards then drive to the net and shot past Marc Andre-Fleury continues the Blackhawks’ five-game winless streak that extends into December before the team had four games postponed due to opponent COVID-19 cases.

Yet it wasn’t exactly a disappointment for Derek King, since the effort was what the interim head coach was hoping for when he shook up a few lines after losing the previous two games by a combined score of 11-1.

“Exactly what we wanted to see as a staff, and I’m sure that’s what they wanted to see as a team,” said the Blackhawks’ interim head coach. “Respond, prepared, ready to play.”

There were some issues early even with Marc Andre-Fleury back in net after a stay in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol that kept him out the last two games. Colorado scored a pair of goals in the first period to grab the lead but Jonathan Toews got one back in the second period with his fourth goal of the year.

DeBrincat then added to his team-high total of goals quickly in the third period with two early goals in 40 seconds to give the Blackhawks the lead. He’s now up to 20 scores on the season which is currently tied for fourth in the NHL.

Erik Johnson would bring the game back to even later in the third period with his second goal of the night, and that’s where it remained until Maker’s great goal in the extra session.

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