The Chicago Blackhawks rode one of the league's best power-play units to snap a scoring slump and earn a much-needed victory to start a brief road swing.
The Colorado Avalanche also used a big game with the man advantage to keep up their rapid scoring pace, and they'll look to win a fifth straight meeting with the Blackhawks on Thursday night.
Chicago (21-13-4) entered the holiday break after a lackluster 4-0 loss at Dallas on Dec. 22 and returned Tuesday with a 2-1 home defeat to Carolina, scoring only a meaningless goal with less than three seconds remaining.
The Blackhawks then faced back-to-back road games to end 2015 but snapped out of their funk with a 7-5 win over Arizona on Tuesday, capitalizing on all three of their power-play opportunities in the first period.
Duncan Keith, Artem Anisimov and rookie Artemi Panarin had those goals, Andrew Desjardins scored twice and Patrick Kane finished with a goal and two assists to give him an NHL-high 53 points.
Chicago ranks among the league leaders in power-play conversion rate at 23.3 percent and is 8-2-1 when getting at least four chances, scoring in 10 of those games and converting 15 times. It had gone 1 for 11 over its previous six games before going 3 for 4 on Tuesday.
''The last few games we haven't had very many (power-play) opportunities, so sometimes you get out of sync,'' Kane said. ''We have two good units right now and a lot of depth. If one unit doesn't get it started, the other one wants to get out there for a chance to cash in.”
Kane had his franchise-record 26-game point streak snapped as the Blackhawks failed on both power-play chances in a 3-0 home loss to Colorado on Dec. 15. They've been outscored 12-3 during a four-game losing streak to the Avalanche (18-17-2), who have scored at least three goals six times during a 6-1-1 stretch.
They went 4 for 6 on the power play and tied their season high for goals in Monday's 6-3 win over San Jose. Nathan MacKinnon notched his second career hat trick, ending a month-long drought without a goal.
“Tough slump obviously with 14 games. They come in bunches sometimes,” MacKinnon said. “We've been struggling a little bit (on the power play). Hopefully it gives us some confidence.”
Matt Duchene also scored for the Avalanche, who try to head into 2016 on a roll and continue inching toward playoff position. They're sitting second-to-last in the Central Division after missing the playoffs last season.
“We're creeping up on Nashville, and we want to get in a playoff spot as soon as possible and never look back,” said Duchene, who scored in the first meeting with Chicago.
Semyon Varlamov should be back in net after Calvin Pickard made 35 saves Monday. Varlamov has a 1.68 goals-against average over his last 10, including a 29-save shutout against the Blackhawks. He's won his last seven starts versus Chicago with a 1.27 GAA.
The Blackhawks could go with Corey Crawford again despite him having a 3.51 GAA over his last four. Crawford, 3-7-2 with a 3.20 GAA against the Avalanche since the 2011-12 season, allowed three goals in the third Tuesday to make things interesting.
“We made it exciting in the end,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We haven't had a lead like that all year, but we have to play the right way when we get it. Hopefully it will happen again.”
- Andrew Desjardins
- Artem Anisimov
- Artemi Panarin
- Calvin Pickard
- Chicago Blackhawks
- Colorado Avalanche
- Corey Crawford
- Duncan Keith
- Matt Duchene
- Nathan MacKinnon
- Patrick Kane
- Semyon Varlamov