RAPID REACTION: The Blackhawks third period comeback efforts fell short as the Colorado Avalanche won the first game of the back-to-back series 4-2. The two teams will now travel to Chicago for the rematch on Sunday evening.
Video: Jeremy Colliton on the loss to the Avs
The first period contained few stoppages and lots of end-to-end action but no goals.
Patrik Nemeth opened scoring for Colorado at 3:07 of the second period, giving the home team a 1-0 advantage.
Jonathan Toews responded for Chicago, burying a loose puck out in front at 5:20 of the middle frame. Dylan Sikura recorded the lone assist.
The Blackhawks got into penalty trouble with about seven minutes left in the second period. With Erik Gustafsson in the box for a holding call, David Kampf took a four-minute high-sticking penalty to put the visitors down two men for an extended period of time.
The Avalanche cashed in on the two-man advantage with Colin Wilson scoring at 13:57 of the middle frame to give Colorado a 2-1 lead. The Blackhawks managed to kill off the rest of the three minutes shorthanded.
Sven Andrighetto redirected a puck past Corey Crawford at 1:26 of the third to give the Avs a 3-1 lead.
Video: CHI@COL: Gustafsson hammers one-timer past Grubauer
The Blackhawks jump right back in it with Gustafsson hammering home a one-timer at 12:04 of the third, pulling Chicago back within one. Duncan Keith and Brandon Saad had the helpers.
Brassard scored the empty-netter with 2:20 remaining in the third to make it 4-2.
QUITE THE SEASON: With his 32nd goal of the season, Toews tied his second-best goal-scoring campaign (2010-11) and moved to within two tallies of his career-high of 34 set in 2008-09.
Video: CHI@COL: Toews beats Grubauer after turnover
SWEET 16: Gustafsson's goal was the defenseman's 16th of the season and marked the third game in a row that he has scored. He is now tied with Kris Letang for second in the NHL in goals among defensemen.
OFFENSIVE SLOWDOWN: The Blackhawks high octane offense has slowed down recently with the team scoring two or fewer goals in four straight games.
TALKING POINTS: "I think we were in pretty good shape until the penalties there in the second period. They got a bunch of chances on that, I don't know how many it was maybe six or seven in that stretch when you include the four-minutes (penalty). But up until that point we were in pretty good shape. We were coming from behind and that makes it tougher. But I thought we could have gotten to the net more. Look, they scored two goals off just being at the net, throwing the puck to the net, being at the net and then pucks go in. It's hard to score those goals because you have to pay a price to be there, but it's easy because everyone can do it. They got a couple that way and we didn't generate enough offensively. So it's frustrating." - Jeremy Colliton
WHAT'S NEXT: The Blackhawks and Avalanche fly to Chicago to complete this back-to-back series on Sunday at 7 p.m. CT. The game can be seen on NBCSN or heard on WGN 720 or streamed online at NHL.TV.