Blackhawks stun Avalanche with 3 goals in 34 seconds, win 6-3

No matter how dire the circumstances, the Blackhawks always think they’re one goal from an onslaught that will save their hide. They’re conditioned to think that way after three Stanley Cup titles and a number of improbable victories in the Joel Quenneville era.

But for a regular-season game, they might have outdone themselves this time.

Trailing the last-place Colorado Avalanche by two goals midway through the third period Sunday night, the Hawks buried the Avs with a historic barrage — three goals in 34 seconds and four in 3:02 — to slingshot their way to a 6-3 win before 22,070 at the United Center.

Jonathan Toews scored the first and last goals of the flurry, and Richard Panik and Artemi Panarin also scored as the Hawks (47-20-5) won for the 17th time in their last 20 games to clinch a playoff berth for the ninth consecutive season and take a seven-point lead over the fading Minnesota Wild, who lost 5-4 to the Winnipeg Jets.

Avalanche forward Sven Andrighetto battles the Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews in the first period. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

“Toots [Jordin Tootoo] was the first one to say it — we just need one goal to wake us up, give us some energy, get the crowd into it,” said Toews, who has 20 goals and 53 points for the season. “And we collectively made that decision that we had to play better. We were just looking for that first bounce and maybe we could put some pressure on them and see if they make a few mistakes, and obviously we got a few bounces around their net to get ahead. Once we got that first one, things started clicking for us.”

The Hawks trailed 3-1 and appeared headed for a listless loss when they took advantage of an apparent replay-review break to open the floodgates.

“Anybody in the league who follows hockey knows this team’s done it before, and they know to never let their foot off the gas against these great players that are in this room,” said goalie Scott Darling, who kept the Hawks in it with two dazzling saves after the Avalanche took a 3-1 lead. “We have no quit, and we have confidence that we’re going to come back. It’s just another reaffirmation that we’re never out of a game.”

Toews scored in front of the net on a deflection of a shot by Duncan Keith from the point at 10:17 of the third period. The Avalanche challenged the play for offsides, and replays seemed to clearly indicate Toews was indeed offside before the puck entered the Hawks’ offensive zone. But officials ruled it a good goal.

“It’s nice to get a break with those calls,” Toews said. “It gave us some energy.”

“I thought it was the right call,” Quenneville said.

Panik scored on the rebound of Brent Seabrook’s shot 17 seconds later to tie the game 3-3. Panarin gave the Hawks the lead 17 seconds after that with a shot that was deflected by Avalanche goaltender Jeremy Smith and went in the goal off Smith’s back at 10:51.

As the crowd was still buzzing over three goals in a 34-second span, Toews beat Smith with a wrist shot to extend the lead to 5-3 at 13:19.

“It was super-impressive to watch,” Darling said. “That was the whole thing from my mindset — just keep us in it. I know our team can do something like that, and they did. It was pretty impressive.”

Follow me on Twitter@MarkPotash.

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com


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