Colin Wilson scored the go-ahead goal on a 5-on-3 advantage in the second period as the host Colorado Avalanche skated to a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in the opener of a home-and-home series on Saturday afternoon in Denver.
Wilson added an assist on Sven Andrighetto’s goal in the third period and J.T. Compher and Derick Brassard also tallied for the Avalanche, who have won four in a row heading into Sunday’s rematch in Chicago. Philipp Grubauer finished with 29 saves on Saturday and has turned aside 131 of 135 shots in his last four starts.
Colorado forward Mikko Rantanen did not play in the game after exiting Thursday’s 3-1 victory versus Dallas following a hit along the boards in the third period. Rantanen has recorded career highs in goals (31), assists (56) and points (87) this season.
Defenseman Erik Gustafsson scored in his third straight contest and captain Jonathan Toews also tallied for the Blackhawks, who have answered a five-game winning streak with three straight losses (0-2-1). Corey Crawford finished with 21 saves.
Alexander Kerfoot slid a centering feed from deep in the right circle to Wilson, who redirected the puck from the doorstep past Crawford to give the Avalanche a 2-1 lead with 6:03 remaining in the second period. Wilson’s goal was his 11th of the season and first since Colorado’s 4-3 overtime loss to Washington on Feb. 7.
Andrighetto deflected defenseman Erik Johnson’s shot from the point past Crawford to double the advantage at 1:26 of the third period.
Gustafsson’s blast from the point trimmed the Blackhawks’ deficit with 3-2 with 7:56 remaining in the third period, but Brassard found the empty net with 2:20 left to cap the scoring.
Colorado opened the scoring 3:07 into the second period as Compher extended his stick from the right hashmarks and deflected defenseman Patrik Nemeth’s shot from the point past Crawford. Compher boosted his career-high total in goals (16) with just his second in his last 14 games.
Chicago answered 2:13 later, as Toews alertly deposited a loose puck past Grubauer after the goaltender successfully poke-checked it away from Dylan Sikura. Toews’ 32nd goal moved within a pair of his career high set during the 2008-09 season, while his 74 points are two shy of his personal-best total in his 2010-11 campaign.
—Field Level Media