Finding itself without Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, two of its three leading scorers, the Colorado Avalanche needs everyone in its lineup to step up with two weeks remaining in the regular season.
The Avs got the offensive production it needed throughout the roster as four different skaters found the back of the net en route to a 4-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday in the first half of a back-to-back, home-and-home set.
The contest at Pepsi Center was the seventh that Landeskog has missed with an upper-body injury and marked the first outing that Rantanen did not suit up for this year due to an upper-body ailment. Rantanen is second on the team with a career-high 87 points (31 goals, 56 assists) and Landeskog is third with 69 points (33 goals, 36 assists).
"It's been a full-team effort when those guys haven't been in the lineup, and that is what we need," said Colorado forward J.T. Compher. "We need everyone stepping up in these big games. We have checked well, and because we are playing such good defense, it is leading to offense."
Video: CHI@COL: Compher starts the scoring on nice redirect
Compher got the Avalanche on the scoreboard first in the contest when he redirected defenseman Patrik Nemeth's shot from the point 3:07 into the second period. Compher leads Colorado with five points (four goals, one assist) in four matchups against Chicago this season.
Colin Wilson also tallied and recorded an assist for the Avs, and he now has four points (one goal, three assists) while on a season-long point streak of three games. It was his fourth multi-point performance of the year.
Wilson's goal was his 11th of the campaign and came when Colorado found itself on a 5-on-3 power play in the middle stanza.
Video: CHI@COL: Wilson taps home Kerfoot's feed for PPG
"It was 5-on-3 so there is a lot of room out there, I think we had a couple really good looks before that. [Nathan MacKinnon] hit the crossbar and then they got kind of a lucky bounce when we had a wide-open net earlier," said Alexander Kerfoot, who assisted Wilson's goal. "[On a] 5-on-3, guys are going to be open, and he was open in front of the net and I tried to just feather it in there and he made a great play to finish it."
Leading 2-1 after 40 minutes of play, the Avalanche found twine twice in the final frame to secure the win. Sven Andrighetto scored what stood to be the game-winner 1:26 into the period--his first game-winning goal of the season and third of his career--and Derick Brassard sent a puck into an empty net in the last minutes.
Colorado has now lit the lamp 98 times in the third stanza this season, a single-season Avalanche record (since 1995-96) for third-period scoring (previously 96 goals in 1996-97).
In addition to receiving scoring through the forward depth, Colorado also had offensive production from its defense.
Nemeth's assist on Compher's goal was his eighth of the year while second-year rear guard Samuel Girard recorded his third assist in the last two games. Girard now has 24 points this season, surpassing his rookie season total (23) from 2017-18.
"You need help from the blue line to put up goals all season," said head coach Jared Bednar. "I think if you look at our team--outside of the MacKinnon-Rantanen-Landeskog [line] creating on their own, they are so dynamic as a threesome--that everything else starts and helps when the D are involved in it. We did it in Dallas, and we did it here tonight and it has to continue."
ANOTHER GRUBI START: Philipp Grubauer was between the pipes for the fourth consecutive game and made 29-of-31 saves to earn his fourth straight victyory.
The German netminder is 6-2-0 with three shutouts in his last nine games (eight starts) and has posted a 1.00 goals-against average and .968 save percentage over that span.
Video: Philipp Grubauer following the Avs win over the Hawks
"The guys make it easy for me, and like I said, you got to simplify your game," said Grubauer. "Once the puck goes out of the zone, a new situation comes down. Read the game, and guys make it really easy for me to read the game and stay in the moment."
It is unknown if Grubauer will get the start in net again on Sunday when the Avs and Blackhawks meet again at the United Center, but the goaltender will be ready should he be between the pipes.
"It was an early game, get a little bit of rest in and over there they are in the same situation," added Grubauer. "I haven't talked to [head coach Jared Bednar yet], so we will see what is going to happen and who is going to play."
QUICK TURNAROUND: Colorado and Chicago will conclude their five-game season series on Sunday in Chicago.
This is the first home-and-home, back-to-back set for the Avalanche since Dec. 16-17, 2013 against the Dallas Stars (excluding the two games against the Ottawa Senators in Sweden in 2017).
Video: J.T. Compher on the Avs' victory over the Blackhawks
"They are a desperate group. They played desperate today, and we expect that they are going to bring it up a level tomorrow," said Compher of Chicago. "We got to be ready to match it and beat it tomorrow."
Colorado won the first matchup between the clubs in the Windy City, 5-3 on Feb. 22. The Avs are now 2-1-1 against the Blackhawks this campaign.
MORE NOTES: The Avs have won four straight games and are 11-5-1 over their last 17 outings. Colorado is 7-2-1 in its last 10 contests at Pepsi Center and has now won six of its last seven (6-1-0) games against Central Division opponents.
The Avalanche played its last of six afternoon contests at Pepsi Center, finishing 4-2-0 in day games at home and 7-4-2 overall in matinee contests (5 p.m. start time or earlier).
Alexander Kerfoot registered his 10th multi-point game of the season. He now has a career-high 25 assists this season, surpassing his previous high of 24 from his rookie campaign in 2017-18.
Nathan MacKinnon finished with five shots to bring his total to 336 this season, the second-most in a single season in franchise history, surpassing Joe Sakic's 332 shots in 2000-01 to move into second place. Sakic owns the record with 339 (1995-96).