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Kane leads Blackhawks past Avalanche

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- A potent power play and a terrific performance from Patrick Kane helped the Chicago Blackhawks defeat the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 in a game played at breakneck speed at Pepsi Center on Wednesday.

Kane assisted on all three goals, and the Blackhawks were 2-for-6 on the power play to run their record to 3-1-0 with two games remaining on their 10-day "Circus Trip."

"We've been pleased and happy with it," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of a power play that has scored at least one goal in six consecutive games. "Tonight, two big goals got the momentum back on our side. What a hockey game that was, anybody's hockey game. Very comparable to what happened here last year. We got a lot of chances, a lot of sniffs around the net and came out on the wrong side (last season). Today it was nice to come out ahead."

The Blackhawks, who outshot the Avalanche 45-29, broke a 2-2 tie on a goal by Bryan Bickell with 5:17 remaining in the third period. Bickell knocked the puck behind rookie goalie Calvin Pickard after Kane muscled his way through traffic.

"Duncan [Keith] threw kind of a half-decent pass to Kane, and he picked it up," Bickell said. "I don't know how he was handling it when it was bouncing, but he made a play and got the puck to the net. There were a lot of guys drawing attention to him when he's coming in the slot like that. I think he was just getting the puck to the net. I just saw it there and I whacked at it."

Colorado's Ryan O'Reilly tied the game 2-2 at 3:36 of the third period with his first goal in 11 games during a goal-mouth scramble. Alex Tanguay and Nick Holden took whacks at the puck before O'Reilly managed to chip it under the crossbar.

The Avalanche (8-10-5), who won four of their previous five games, rallied to win 4-3 in overtime on the road Tuesday against the Arizona Coyotes and have an injury list that includes nine players.

"We played well. I liked our compete level for playing back-to-back games," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "They were waiting for us, and we have (nine) injured players. Our players certainly deserve a lot of credit. I thought 5-on-5 we were the better team. It's kind of funny how this game goes sometimes. In the last few games we'd have maybe one or no power plays and tonight we gave them five in 33 minutes, and that's all they needed to score those two goals. I just thought they got away with things we could not get away with."

Pickard made 42 saves, nine against Marian Hossa. A 22-year-old rookie, Pickard made 42 saves without giving up a goal in 95:33 of playing time covering two consecutive appearances in relief of Reto Berra to give the Avalanche come-from-behind wins against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday and the Coyotes on Tuesday.

"It was exciting, a really good game for the fans to see," Pickard said. "It was back-and-forth. We played well, they played well. You have to be in position for as many shots as you can. I thought I did that for the most part, but we would have liked a win for sure.

"All the way through the lineup we had a great effort. We might have been undermanned, but we can't use that as an excuse. The guys did a great job tonight. It was just tough at the end when they squeaked one in there."

The Blackhawks used power-play goals from Jonathan Toews and Andrew Shaw that came 2:31 apart in the second period to take a 2-1 lead after the Avalanche opened the scoring on Maxime Talbot's goal at 7:35 of the period.

The Blackhawks tied the game at 11:50 on Toews' goal with Tomas Vincour in the penalty box for high sticking Kane. Brent Seabrook's shot got through Pickard, and Toews skated behind him to tap the puck inside the left post.

"I would have liked to have been a little farther out in my crease, but I kind of jammed my pad against the post," Pickard said. "I didn't get there in time."

Shaw, who missed the three previous games with an upper-body injury, put the Blackhawks in front 2-1 at 14:21 after he drew a holding penalty from Nick Holden. Kane passed to Shaw for a one-timer in the left circle that skimmed inside the left post.

"Sometimes the puck goes in," Kane said. "Sometimes you find some different ways to play the game, and sometimes you're playing some players that are feeling it too. We've had some success. It would be nice to see more pucks go into the net, but the power play has been good and it seems for the most part we've been scoring in a good amount of games."

Pickard made 13 saves and Crawford nine in a fast-paced, scoreless first period.

Crawford, in his 12th consecutive start, made a sliding save against Tanguay on a clean shorthanded breakaway at 15:30. Tanguay, wearing a full face shield to protect a facial fracture, played in his first game since he was injured Nov. 20 against the Washington Capitals.

"I should have scored on that breakaway," Tanguay said. "I had his legs wide open, and it hit his stick. You have to bury those chances."

The Avalanche went 0-for-2 on the power play and are 1-for-31 in an 11-game stretch.

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