Johnson's go-ahead goal lifts Blackhawks over Avalanche
For one night, at least, the Chicago Blackhawks looked pretty good.
“Consistency's been a word we've been looking for this year,” Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson said, “and I think tonight, 60 minutes was really good.”
The Blackhawks, playing without several regulars, then held off the Avalanche as they pushed for the tying score in the final minutes. The United Center crowd of 19,719 roared after the final seconds ticked off.
“I think our guys were focused, which allowed us to play our physical game to the best that we could,” Richardson said.
The Avalanche beat the Blackhawks 4-0 in their first meeting of the season on Oct. 19.
“It's hard to win any night against any team in this league,” Colorado defenseman Devon Toews said. “You have to show up, and we've got guys in here that aren't showing up right now.”
Donato put Chicago in front when he stuffed in a rebound 7:29 into the first period. It was the fifth goal of the season for Donato, who was elevated to the top line alongside Bedard and Reichel after Philipp Kurashev was scratched because of an illness.
Working right in front of the net on Colorado's power play, Nichushkin responded with goals at 9:22 and 11:25. The 6-foot-4 forward has five goals and three assists during a five-game point streak.
MacKinnon picked up a secondary assist on Nichushkin's first goal. MacKinnon has eight goals and 20 assists during the NHL's longest active point streak, just one back of William Nylander's 17-game run for Toronto for the longest streak this season.
Chicago tied it at 2 when Reichel finished a 2-on-1 with Bedard at 12:56, beating Georgiev with a wrist shot on the goaltender's stick side. It was Reichel's first goal since Nov. 30 and third this season.
“I mean I didn't score for a while and it was frustrating,” he said. “Mentally, it was, yeah, pretty tough. But that makes it even better to score now and get the win.”
The Avalanche played without defenseman Cale Makar and forward Andrew Cogliano, who stayed home when the team traveled to Chicago. Makar missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury, and coach Jared Bednar said Cogliano “got dinged up” during Sunday night's 6-2 victory over San Jose.
“The reality of it is, I mean we didn't score a 5-on-5 goal tonight,” Bednar said. “We had some good chances, didn't capitalize. I still think we could have made it a lot harder on them defensively, and part of that was our mismanagement of the puck.”
Avalanche: Host the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.
Blackhawks: Host the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night.
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