DENVER -- Soaring when they hit the Mile High City, the Chicago Blackhawks were brought back to earth in spectacular fashion and their historic run is history.
The Hawks didn't just lose for the first time this season in regulation, they looked bad in doing so as the Avalanche crushed them, 6-2, on Friday night at Pepsi Center. After a first half of the season during which they could do no wrong, everything fell apart for the Hawks against the Avs and their 24-game run to begin the 2013 season was halted. Also ended was the Hawks' franchise-record 11-game winning streak and the 30 consecutive contests with at least one point dating back to last season.
Losing puck battles, failing in the faceoff circle and looking winded during their sixth game in nine nights, the Hawks fell to 21-1-3 in 2013. It was their first defeat in regulation since March 25, 2012 against the Predators.
"We were fortunate to play well enough to make it this far and it's something we can be proud of," captain Jonathan Toews said. "We'll take the confidence we gained from all that and keep going forward. Everyone knows you can't win them all."
The Hawks actually jumped in front early in the opening period on a Toews goal, but the Avs -- who looked a step quicker than the Hawks all game -- mounted an offensive attack that stunned goaltender Corey Crawford with five consecutive goals from five different players.
Matt Duchene had a goal and three assists and Paul Stastny (two assists), Ryan O'Reilly John Mitchell, Jamie McGinn and PA Parenteau also scored as the Avs avenged a 3-2 loss to the Hawks on Wednesday night at the United Center. Bryan Bickell also scored for the Hawks but it wasn't nearly enough.
Semyon Varlamov earned the victory in goal for the Avalanche while Crawford took the loss, lasting two periods before he Ray Emery replaced him to start the third.
Toews opened the scoring in the first off a pretty passing play with Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa. The captain eventually scored off a give-and-go with Hossa and the Hawks appeared to be off and running.
Stastny tied it late in the first while the Avs were on a power play when he redirected a Duchene shot. Colorado owned the second with four goals to erase any doubt that it wasn't the Hawks' night. Duchene flipped a backhander past Crawford, Mitchell rifled one in from the slot, O'Reilly scored from the high slot with a man advantage and McGinn tucked the puck past Crawford to end the second-period onslaught.
The barrage also ended Crawford's night as coach Joel Quenneville turned to Emery. Crawford yielded the five goals on 19 shots to drop to 11-1-3 on the season.
In the third, Bickell cut the Hawks' deficit to 5-2 when the winger blasted a one-timer from the right dot past Varlamov.
The Hawks' malaise began during the morning skate and Quenneville let his team know it with some colorful language to get it to pick up the pace.
"We don't practice very often so when you're out there and it's just ordinary, missing passes or whatever, (it's to) just to get their focus -- let's go," Quenneville said.
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