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game recap

Francouz makes 31 saves, Avalanche defeat Blackhawks

Colorado 9-1-1 in past 11 games; Keith returns from injury

by Brandon Cain / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

Francouz's late pair of saves

COL@CHI: Francouz denies Toews, Strome in front

Pavel Francouz turns away Jonathan Toews' nice chance in front of the net, and covers the puck after Dylan Strome paws at the rebound

  • 00:19 •

CHICAGO -- Pavel Francouz made 31 saves for the Colorado Avalanche in a 4-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Wednesday.

"I was kind of surprised that we were dominating the first period; we were the much better team," said Francouz, who is 8-0-1 in his past nine decisions and 10-2-1 this season. "They were just lucky that (Corey) Crawford played really well in their net, because he stopped so many chances there.

"To me, it was an easy first period; I didn't have much saves there. Unfortunately, I let one in and it didn't feel great, but the guys were able to score two more goals in the second and then we managed the game pretty well."

 

[WATCH: All Avalanche vs. Blackhawks highlights]

 

Mikko Rantanen and Ian Cole each had a goal and an assist for Colorado (22-9-3), which is 9-1-1 in its past 11 games. Gabriel Landeskog had two assists.

"It was a really good first period. I thought we were stingy defensively, we weren't making some of the mistakes we were making lately, committed to our defensive details," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "Second period, they started to rack up some shots and put a little pressure on us. … [Nathan] MacKinnon comes up with a big goal, we made a couple of plays there. From there, I thought pretty good third period too."

Video: COL@CHI: MacKinnon picks the corner on the rush

Ryan Carpenter scored for Chicago (13-16-6), which is 1-4-1 in its past six games. Corey Crawford made 32 saves.

Cole scored on a slap shot from the point at 8:41 of the first period to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead.

"We don't give ourselves an opportunity to get a bounce," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. "Their first goal, they had someone at the net, they got a puck through, it's in. You leave a lot on the table offensively when you're not doing those things."

Carpenter tied it 1-1 at 9:48 of the first with a shot from the right face-off circle.

Video: COL@CHI: Carpenter scores in 1st period

MacKinnon extended his point streak to six games when he scored on a wrist shot from the right circle to make it 2-1 at 7:49 of the second period. He has eight points (three goals, five assists) during the streak.

Andre Burakovsky scored from the top of the right circle to give Colorado a 3-1 lead at 10:08 of the second period.

Rantanen scored an empty-net goal with 2:56 remaining for the 4-1 final.

"They play a fast hockey game out there," Blackhawks defenseman Erik Gustafsson said. "They're tough to play against. We've got to stick together here. We play them again Saturday, so we've got to step up."

Video: COL@CHI: Burakovsky capitalizes on turnover

Francouz made 10 saves in the third period.

Duncan Keith, who was out nine games with a groin injury, had six shots on goal in 23:16.

"[I] felt good," the Blackhawks defenseman said. "It was good to be back. [I] tried to have a good gap. I felt like I was able to break up a few plays there coming off the rush early in the game, but you know it's tough out there."

 

They said it

"We've been playing a lot of games. It's definitely not an easy lead-up into the Christmas break, but we're going to work hard and get as many points as we can before we get a couple of days off." -- Avalanche coach Jared Bednar

"We've got to get a little more emotion. It's not going to just turn around, it's not going to just happen. We need to make it happen." -- Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith

 

Need to know

The Avalanche are 3-0-0 against the Blackhawks this season and 4-0-2 in their past six games at Chicago. … MacKinnon, Landeskog, Rantanen, Cole and defenseman Nikita Zadorov were plus-3. … Rantanen has eight points (three goals, five assists) in his past four games against Chicago. … Colorado defenseman Cale Makar missed his fifth straight game because of an upper-body injury. … The Blackhawks are 3-6-2 against the Central Division this season. … Chicago center Jonathan Toews' three-game point streak ended.

 

What's next

Avalanche: Host the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; ALT, FS-CR, NHL.TV)

Blackhawks: At the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, NBCSCH, NHL.TV)

Video: Avalanche ride balanced effort, Francouz to 4-1 win

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