DENVER (AP) Five goals by players all 24 and under – just the sort of youthful infusion the Chicago Blackhawks were searching for.
That takes some of the pressure off Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and the rest of the veterans.
Vinnie Hinostroza scored twice in the third period, including the go-ahead goal with 11:49 remaining, and the Blackhawks rallied for a 6-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.
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Tanner Kero had two goals and Nick Schmaltz and defenseman Brent Seabrook also scored for Chicago, which snapped a two-game skid.
”To come in here and come from behind and win, and the younger guys to chip in, it’s nice,” said the 22-year-old Hinostroza, who entered the game with four career goals.
The Blackhawks switched around their line combinations, breaking up the Toews-Marian Hossa tandem in an effort to spark the offense. It certainly worked with Hinostroza, Kero and Hossa combining for eight points. Hossa had three assists.
Except for Seabrook’s goal, the scoring came from the forwards on the third and fourth lines.
”Whenever you can get that secondary scoring, it’s going to help the team,” Kero said. ”Both of our lines were going a little bit and it’s nice to contribute offensively.”
Matt Duchene had two goals and Blake Comeau and Matt Nieto also scored for the last-place Avalanche, who wrapped up a four-game homestand with a 1-3 mark.
”Through 40 minutes, I’m liking the game,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. ”Hard fought, competitive game with a good pace to it. It was a lot of fun.
”Certainly, it felt to me they turned up the intensity and we had trouble staying with it.”
This game felt more like a road game for Colorado, though, with all the Blackhawk fans in attendance. The loudest cheer of the night came when Hinostroza scored the game-winner by tapping a shot past Semyon Varlamov.
Colorado pulled Varlamov with around 35 seconds remaining but couldn’t get anything past Corey Crawford. Kero added an empty-netter with 10.6 seconds left. Toews could’ve scored it himself, but dished it off to him instead.
”That shows how unselfish of a player he is,” the 24-year-old Kero said.
Hinostroza tied the game at 4 early in the third period when he took a long pass and skated in all alone, lifting a wrist shot over Varlamov.
There were a combined four goals in a frenzied second period, with Colorado taking a 3-2 lead on Nieto’s first goal of the season. The advantage lasted all of 19 seconds as Kero answered.
On the play, Hossa had his first assist of the night to give him 600 for his career. He’s the 32nd player in NHL history to record 500 goals and 600 assists.
In the first period, Duchene scored a rare power-play goal for the Avalanche. They were 2 of 41 on the man advantage over the last 11 games before Duchene tipped Nathan MacKinnon’s shot past Crawford.
”When you score four in this league you should win,” Duchene said. ”You should keep enough out of your own net, and we didn’t tonight.”
Given how far they’ve fallen, the Avalanche could soon be looking at a possible shake-up. Duchene, the team’s leading goal scorer, captain Gabriel Landeskog and defenseman Tyson Barrie have been frequently mentioned in trade rumors. The trio are part of the core that general manager Joe Sakic has been trying to build around for the last few seasons.
”I believe in the guys we have in this room,” Barrie said. ”It’s about learning, but you can only say that for so long.
”It would be a lot of fun to win with these guys. I don’t think we’re too far off.”
NOTES: Schmaltz scored his second goal of the season. The 20-year-old center was recalled from Rockford of the American Hockey League last Saturday. … Seabrook scored his first goal since Nov. 18 at Calgary. … F Rene Bourque played in his 700th NHL game. … Colorado had three second-period goals in a 5:05 span, the fastest three goals scored by the team this season.
Blackhawks: At Boston on Friday.
Avalanche: Start a two-game trip, beginning Thursday in Anaheim.