Blackhawks drop another overtime game 3-2 to Avalanche

Sometimes, you need your goalie to steal a win for you, and that's what the Colorado Avalanche got out of Semyon Varlamov tonight at the United Center versus the Blackhawks.

Varlamov made 46 of 48 saves (.958 sv%) on a night where the Avs started a player short, and lost a defenseman early in the third. Colorado has a handful of players on IR, including PA Parenteau and Alex Tanguay, but despite that, they've been 5-1-1 in the new year. Their goalie has been a big part of that.

In that same stretch, the Blackhawks have gone just 2-1-4; so their silver lining is that they continue to eke out points in losses and remain in the top three of the Central division.

Chicago has gone to overtime in 15 of their 49 games this season. Only 5 of those have ended in overtime; all of them losses. The majority of their shootouts - six of ten - have also ended in losses. The inability of the Blackhawks to finish their games in OT is not only boggling, but troublesome; last season, they had no problem doing it, and the majority of last year's players grace this season's roster.

The Blackhawks put a lot of pressure on the Avalanche, as evidenced by the score sheet: 48 shots on goal, 23 attempts blocked, 17 missed shots, for 88 total attempted shots. Patrick Sharp led the team with nine; the only players not to register a SOG were Michal Handzus and Ben Smith. They were 58% in faceoffs won; Jonathan Toews went 72% (21 of 29).

Ultimately, however, if you can't put the puck in the net, it doesn't matter how commanding your game. Varlamov had a game that harkened back memories of Ray Emery's game at Calgary last season, when the Blackhawks were outplayed and dramatically outshot, but still managed to win.

The game started with a penalty: Erik Johnson took an interference penalty for the Avs just ten seconds into the game. The Blackhawks would eventually have five power plays total, and not be able to convert on any of them.

Tyson Barrie opened up the scoring for Colorado late in the first, shooting through a screen of players to make it 1-0.

Kris Versteeg would take the first of four Blackhawks hooking penalties at 15:50 of the first. It would take Ryan O'Reilly just ten seconds to convert Colorado's power play into the Avs' second goal of the night. Then four seconds later, Marian Hossa was called for hooking as well.

Johnny Oduya would get the Blackhawks on to the scoresheet in the middle of the second period. Despite Chicago's constant pressure and dominant play, the Blackhawks would not score against until 7:27 of the third, when Andrew Shaw tied up the game after pouncing on a rebound.

Although it felt like the Blackhawks were constantly swarming the Avalanche's net, Varlamov held Chicago off into overtime.

Jonathan Toews took a hooking penalty with 1:26 left in overtime, and Colorado was finally able to put enough pressure on to the Blackhawks for Barrie to score again, to win the game 3-2 with 51 seconds left in OT.

Three stars:
1) Semyon Varlamov (COL)
2) Tyson Barrie (COL)
3) Andrew Shaw (CHI)

The Blackhawks will welcome the Anaheim Ducks to the United Center on Friday night at 7pm CST.


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