DENVER (AP) – With a flick of the wrist, Gabriel Landeskog helped snap Colorado’s season-long five-game skid while extending Chicago’s misery on the road.
The rookie forward broke a tie 38 seconds into the third period and David Jones added two goals, lifting the Avalanche to a 5-2 win over the struggling Blackhawks on Tuesday night.
Landeskog simply did what he does best – shoot the puck as hard as he can. And with his drive finding the net, weeks of frustration began to fade on the spot for the Avs.
“It felt great,” said Landeskog, who recently participated in the All-Star skills competition. “We knew if we stuck with it, we would start getting the bounces. That’s what we did tonight.”
Peter Mueller and Jones scored 35 seconds apart in the second period to send the Avalanche to their third victory in four games against Chicago this season. Kyle Quincey tacked on an empty-net goal with just more than 2 minutes remaining.
Not all that long ago, the Blackhawks were the top team in the Western Conference. Now, after a six-game slide, they’ve fallen seven points behind Detroit in the Central Division.
“It’s not like we’re enjoying this,” said Jonathan Toews, whose team is 0-3-1 on a nine-game road trip. “We’re trying to fix the problem. No one’s going anywhere. No one’s running away from it.
“We’re looking each other in the eye. We’re expecting every single guy to be better and pick up the slack and that’s what we’ve got to do. We can’t hide from these problems. We have to face them and deal with them.”
That’s precisely what Jones has done.
He was benched for a game after a shaky stretch. But he’s responded in a big way, scoring three times in his last two games.
“They’re giving me a chance with some players, guys I played with last year,” Jones explained. “We had success and it’s nice to be back with them. I think playing with guys like Stastny and (Hejduk), they’ll find you anywhere and you’ve just got to be ready. We had some good luck tonight and hopefully it will carry forward.”
This was exactly what coach Joe Sacco wanted to see.
“It’s been a good response from Jonesey,” said Sacco, who picked up his 100th career win. “He gets in there and gets an opportunity to play on a good line with Paul and Milan and he buries a couple tonight. So, good for him and good for our team.”
Jean-Sebastien Giguere was solid all night in net, turning back shot after shot from a relentless Chicago attack, including one in the final period from point-blank range by Dave Bolland that hit Giguere squarely in the chest.
Brought in this season to be the backup, Giguere has recently been getting a majority of the starts. The veteran is among the NHL leaders in goals-against average and save percentage.
Clinging to a one-goal lead midway through the final period, the Avalanche dodged several dicey situations, including two penalties they were able to kill off.
Jones’ second goal of the game alleviated some of the pressure. Stastny dug out a loose puck along the boards and shoveled a lead pass to Jones, who sent it over Ray Emery.
Then, Quincey wrapped up the win when he banked in a shot off the boards from center ice with Emery on the bench for an extra attacker.
That’s simply how the night went.
“When you’re on a losing streak, you’re not getting the bounces,” said Duncan Keith, who had two assists for Chicago.
After a rather uneventful opening 20 minutes, the action quickly heated up in the second period.
Seabrook put the Blackhawks on the board first, when he rifled in a slap shot past Giguere 31 seconds into the period.
The advantage was short-lived because the Avalanche scored 35 seconds apart to grab back the momentum.
First, Ryan O’Reilly stole the puck in the Colorado end and raced down the ice, with Mueller following on his right. O’Reilly waited for Emery to commit to him and then dished a pass over to Mueller, who tapped it in for his fifth goal of the season.
That was quite a birthday present for O’Reilly, who turned 21 on Tuesday.
Soon after, Hejduk stole the puck near the blue line and skated down low before sending a pass to a wide-open Jones, who lifted the puck over Emery’s shoulder.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville called a timeout to settle down his team. The breather worked as Kane beat Giguere with a backhand to tie the game at 2.
In the end, though, it wasn’t enough, as Landeskog scored moments into the third period.
“When you get into a losing streak, sometimes it can be mental and play games on your mind,” Keith said. “You’re thinking, `What can you do? What can you do?’ I think the best thing to do is work hard and simplify things and everybody worry about doing their job.”
NOTES: Stastny played in his 400th career game. … D Tyson Barrie made his NHL debut after recently being called up from Lake Erie of the American Hockey League. … Quenneville said D Steve Montador was banged up and will be evaluated Wednesday. He didn’t specify an injury.
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