CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks scored five goals in the third period, including three in 34 seconds, to rally for a 6-3 win against the Colorado Avalanche at United Center on Sunday.
The Blackhawks (47-20-5) became the first Western Conference team to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when the Calgary Flames defeated the Los Angeles Kings. Chicago leads the Minnesota Wild by seven points for first place in the Central Division and conference.
"We've been in a lot of tight games lately, where offense has been hard to come by, and it looked like it was the same thing for 40 minutes tonight," said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who scored two goals in the third period. "It's nice for us to finally get a few bounces, and no doubt it gets your crowd into it and energizes your team. It made a huge difference for us tonight."
WATCH: All Avalanche vs. Blackhawks highlights
Mikhail Grigorenko scored two goals and Sven Andrighetto had one for Colorado (20-48-3), which led 3-1 entering the third. Chicago surged ahead 4-3 on goals from Toews at 10:17, Richard Panik at 10:34 and Artemi Panarin at 10:51.
Video: COL@CHI: Hawks explode to score three in 34 seconds
Toews scored his 20th goal at 13:19 to put the Blackhawks ahead 5-3, and Marcus Kruger scored into an empty net with two seconds left.
"I think we came out in the third playing not to lose, and you can't play like that against a team like Chicago," said Colorado defenseman Mark Barberio, who had an assist on Andrighetto's goal. "They started rolling, they started getting momentum, and I think we were sitting back even more just watching them play instead of being part of the game."
Avalanche coach Jared Bednar challenged that Toews was offside before he scored his first goal of the night to get the Blackhawks within 3-2, but video review was inconclusive.
"I guess I don't necessarily fully understand [the rule]," Bednar said. "It's a tag-up rule. They said it wasn't on [Panik's] stick [yet]. That is what it is. For me, it's 3-2 with [9:43] to go. That gives them a little life. It's what we do after that that bothers me. That call there is the least of what bugs me about how that game finished."
Blackhawks rookie John Hayden had two assists in his third NHL game, after scoring his first goal in the League in Chicago's 2-1 overtime win at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. Patrick Kane had a goal and assist, Panarin had a goal and assist, rookie Nick Schmaltz had two assists, and goalie Scott Darling made 22 saves.
Jeremy Smith made 19 of his 28 saves in the first and second periods for the Avalanche, but allowed four goals on 13 shots in the third.
Video: COL@CHI: Hjalmarsson hits Toews to extend Hawks' lead
Goal of the game
Toews scored his first goal after tagging up at the blue line and skating to the low slot. He got his stick on the puck after Hayden tipped Duncan Keith's shot from the point.
Video: COL@CHI: Toews draws Blackhawks closer with tip-in
Save of the game
Darling gloved Joe Colborne's shot with 5:03 left in the second. Colborne got the puck near the right post off a pass from Matt Nieto and avoided Darling's poke-check, but Darling snagged his wrist shot. "The Colborne one was pretty crazy," Darling said. "I was going fishing and I didn't catch anything on that one. I just tried to get a glove on it and I did."
Video: COL@CHI: Darling gets the glove on Colborne's shot
Unsung performance of the game
Blackhawks defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk had two takeaways, two blocked shots, two shots on goal and one assist. He led all players with 25:41 of ice time.
Highlight of the game
Panarin scored the game-winner 17 seconds after Panik's goal in the third. Smith got a piece of Panarin's shot, but the puck hit the crossbar and bounced into the net off the back of Smith's leg.
Video: COL@CHI: Panarin fires across his body to grab lead
They said it
"It was huge. That's one of the top teams in the League turning it up a notch and feeling it, and their top guys making plays and our guys making mistakes." -- Avalanche coach Jared Bednar on allowing five goals in the third period
"I thought it was the right call. It doesn't trigger the offside until he touches the puck and [Jonathan Toews] gets his skate back on time, right at probably the same time as we touch it. You could say it was a tie. That is the Minnesota play." -- Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on the review of Toews' first goal, which was similar to one scored by the Minnesota Wild against Chicago at Xcel Energy Center on Feb. 8
Need to know
Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury. … Quenneville said defenseman Johnny Oduya (ankle) didn't play because he was getting additional rest. … The goals by Toews, Panik and Panarin in 34 seconds were the fastest three at home in Blackhawks history, acccording to the Elias Sports Bureau. They scored three in 21 seconds March 23, 1952, at the New York Rangers, and in 30 seconds Oct. 15, 1983, at the Toronto Maple Leafs. ... Avalanche forward John Mitchell was scratched and missed his first game since Jan. 31.
Avalanche: Host the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; ALT, FS-MW, NHL.TV)
Blackhawks: Host the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday (8:30 p.m. ET; CSN-CH, SNP, NHL.TV)
Video: Blackhawks beat Avalanche behind 3rd-period outburst