Richard Panik did his best Jonathan Toews imitation, scoring a goal and even playing on the top line at times.
Corey Crawford? His customary rock-solid self.
Just what the Chicago Blackhawks needed out of the All-Star break and with their captain sidelined.
Panik and Artemi Panarin scored in the first period, Crawford stopped 22 shots and Chicago beat the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 on Tuesday night.
NHL-scoring leader Patrick Kane added an assist with Toews suspended a game by the league for pulling out of All-Star weekend. Toews cited an illness.
“That’s what you need sometimes, especially on the road — some secondary scoring,” Crawford said. “It’s nice that some other guys got in it tonight, not always have to rely on our big guys to score.”
Gabriel Landeskog scored the only goal for Colorado, which was missing starting goalie Semyon Varlamov. He wrapped up a civil lawsuit filed against him by a former girlfriend, with a jury ruling in his favor late Tuesday and awarding Varlamov approximately $126,000 in damages.
Calvin Pickard gave up two early goals before settling into a rhythm. He stopped a season-high 40 shots.
“They looked like an urgent team tonight. They played well,” Pickard said. “It took us a little bit to get going but I thought in the third period, we were right there and easily could have tied up that game. You know, Crawford made some good saves at the end to preserve the win.”
Panarin nearly put the game away with 9:02 remaining when he skated in all alone on Pickard. But Pickard snared Panarin’s wrist shot with his glove.
Colorado pulled Pickard with around 2 minutes remaining but couldn’t tie up the game. Crawford came up with a big save on a laser shot by Landeskog from in front of the net with 58.3 seconds left.
It’s been quite a stretch lately for Crawford, who was named the NHL’s second star for January after going 9-2 with a .952 save percentage.
“Just because you did well in last game, or the last little bit, doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy,” Crawford said. “I think I’ve taken that approach. I think our guys have taken that, too. We always want more.”
Panik and Panarin staked Chicago to a 2-0 lead with goals 4:19 apart in the opening period, much to the delight of all the Blackhawk fans in attendance. This was Panik’s third goal since joining the Blackhawks on Jan. 3 from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Jeremy Morin in a swap of minor league forwards.
This may even lead to more ice time for Panik, who turns 25 on Sunday.
“He did a lot of good things,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Scoring is nice, but I thought he had some jump and I liked his thought process in the game.”
Expected to serve as Pickard’s backup Tuesday, Varlamov was a scratch. Instead, the team recalled Roman Will from San Antonio of the American Hockey League.
This was the third game Varlamov has missed to deal with the lawsuit filed by his former girlfriend stemming from a 2013 altercation. Charges against Varlamov were dropped when prosecutors said they did not have enough evidence.
“It’s over,” Avalanche GM Joe Sakic said in between periods. “He’s relieved and excited to play hockey again.”
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