Crawford carries Blackhawks past Avalanche

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[February 03, 2016]  DENVER -- Corey Crawford didn't have much to do for most of the night, but when he was needed, the goaltender came through for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Crawford had 22 saves, center Artemi Panarin and right winger Richard Panik scored first-period goals, and the short-handed Blackhawks beat the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 Tuesday.

The Blackhawks won despite not having center Jonathan Toews available. The captain had to sit out Tuesday because he skipped Sunday's All-Star Game in Nashville due to illness, but Chicago outshot the Avalanche 42-23 without him.

"We missed the captain," Panarin said through an interpreter. "He's a real leader. It was real tough without him."

Goaltender Calvin Pickard made 40 saves, and left winger Gabriel Landeskog scored for the Avalanche. Colorado (27-23-3) remained in the first wild-card position in the Western Conference because the Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators also lost.

"They could have scored seven or eight times if Pick didn't play so well for us," Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon said. "We laid an egg, and it's definitely unacceptable this time of the season, the last 30 games. To come up with an effort like that is unacceptable."

Colorado was bottled up for the first two periods before the Blackhawks (34-16-4) survived a flurry to start and end the third period. The Avalanche had eight shots through the first 40 minutes but nearly doubled that with 15 shots in the third.

"You don't really see that often," Crawford said. "There were kind of some fluky ones, too. There was a sinker from the blue line in the second, but I was able to get into it in the third."

Crawford was sharp despite not getting tested early. He came up big in a pile of players in front of the net early in the third when the Avalanche tried to bang the puck in for the tying goal.

Pickard came off for an extra skater with 2:07 remaining. Landeskog had the best chance with a shot from the slot, but Crawford made the save.

The win helped erase a poor stretch before the All-Star break when Chicago lost three of four while scoring just three goals.

"Crow was good at the end of the game, but I liked our team game," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought it was comparable to that stretch we had in January."

The Blackhawks came out flying at the start and put 11 of the first 13 shots on net. Panik gave Chicago a 1-0 lead 2:57 into the game when he batted in a pass from center Andrew Shaw for his third goal of the season.

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Chicago continued to carry the play early and held Colorado without a shot on its first power play. Two minutes after the Blackhawks killed off defenseman Brent Seabrook's tripping minor, Panarin scored when his shot went off Avalanche center Chris Wagner's stick at 7:16 of the first.

It was Panarin's 18th of the season.

"Kind of a broken play on the first (goal), took a weird bounce off the boards and he just whacked at it and it got through me," Pickard said. "The second one was off one of our guy's sticks. Those things happen. There were a lot of bodies around the net. It was unfortunate to get down 2-0, but it was nice to hold them to two."

Colorado cut the lead to 2-1 when Landeskog got the puck in the slot and beat Crawford high on the glove side at 9:59 of the first. It was his 14th of the season and third in two games.

The Blackhawks continued to dominate in the second period. They outshot Colorado 15-2 but couldn't get one past Pickard.

The two shots allowed were the fewest Chicago has allowed in a period this season.

NOTES: With C Jonathan Toews suspended for the game because he skipped Sunday's All-Star Game due to illness, Teuvo Teravainen centered Chicago's top line. He skated with LW Andrew Shaw and RW Marian Hossa. ... Colorado G Semyon Varlamov was scratched because he was dealing with his civil-suit trial filed against him by his ex-girlfriend. The suit stems from an altercation the two had in 2013. G Roman Will was recalled from San Antonio to serve as Calvin Pickard's backup. ... Blackhawks D Michal Rozsival was out of the lineup with a lower-body injury. ... Avalanche D Brad Stuart, out since Nov. 10, recently had surgery on his back and could miss the remainder of the season

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