Blackhawks pound Avalanche 6-3 for 7th straight win
CHICAGO (AP) — Marian Hossa’s 492nd goal was a relief. His second one of the night was business as usual.
Hossa snapped a career-long 14-game scoring drought with two goals and the Chicago Blackhawks rolled to a 6-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night that extended their season-high win streak to seven.
“When I was younger, I tried to do a little too much,” said Hossa, who turns 37 on Tuesday. “I’ve learned over those years, if the puck doesn’t go in, try to use your instincts, stay positive. Eventually it’s going to go in. And I know it’s been such a long time. It feels good.”
Patrick Kane also scored two goals and Chicago chased Semyon Varlamov while improving to 18-5-1 at home. Jonathan Toews had a goal and two assists, Brandon Mashinter scored his second career goal and Corey Crawford had 34 saves.
The Blackhawks (58 points) moved within four points of idle Dallas for the top spot in the Western Conference.
“It seems like we’re trending in the right direction,” Kane said. “Keep building off this level we’re at right now.”
Varlamov was pulled after Kane’s NHL-best 13th power-play goal made it 4-2 at 12:25 of the second. The 27-year-old Varlamov went 11-3 with a 1.80 goals-against average in his first 15 appearances against Chicago but has dropped each of his last two starts against the Blackhawks, allowing four goals in each one.
“I mean, we’re in the battle for a playoff spot, but when we’re going to have nights like this and we’re just going to rest him, that’s all,” Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. “I’ll put him back in the next game. We’re going to play him a lot, that’s all.”
Matt Duchene had two goals and an assist for Colorado, which had won three in a row and four of six. Nathan MacKinnon also scored and Calvin Pickard finished with 13 stops in relief of Varlamov, who had 16 saves.
Duchene got his fourth goal in four games and 21st this season to trim Chicago’s lead to 3-2 at 9:18 of the second. But the reigning Stanley Cup champions responded with an impressive offensive flurry over the final part of the period.
“Defensively I don’t think we were where we needed to be tonight,” Duchene said. “We gave up some pretty good chances and kind of hung our goalies out to dry a couple of times.”
After Kane picked up his 25th goal, Toews drove a slap shot over Pickard’s glove for his 16th of the season. Hossa then finished off a pretty passing sequence for Chicago’s top line, making it 6-2 at 18:42.
Hossa also scored off a nice pass by defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson just 1:39 into the second. He raised his arms into the air after his first goal since Dec. 6.
“It’s something new in my career to learn to think positive this long, to not get too frustrated,” Hossa said. “Just keep working hard. I was getting chances. The puck just doesn’t go in.”
NOTES: Colorado had won five in a row at the United Center. ... Duchene has scored at least 20 goals in each of the last three seasons. ... Blackhawks D Duncan Keith played in his 800th career game. ... F Bryan Bickell was a healthy scratch for Chicago. Bickell has no goals and two assists in 23 games this season. ... Chicago coach Joel Quenneville is hopeful F Richard Panik will be able to join the team on Monday. Panik was acquired in a trade with Toronto last weekend, but has been dealing with a visa issue. ... The Avalanche scratched Ds Erik Johnson and Brandon Gormley and R Chris Wagner.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap