Blackhawks’ modest point streak comes to an emphatic stop in Colorado
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DENVER — In the first 27 hours of Blackhawks goalie Collin Delia’s NHL career, he was thrust into a last-minute start Thursday against one of the top teams in the league; earned his first victory before leaving the game with cramps and setting the stage for a local accountant to become a national star for a day; then hopped on a plane to Colorado and played again, losing 5-0 on Friday to the Avalanche.
And the kid’s having a blast.
‘‘I’m just excited, happy to be here, grateful for the opportunity,’’ Delia said after the loss. ‘‘I think it’s a good learning experience — winning, losing, what have you.’’
Delia wasn’t as sharp as he was Thursday against the Jets, but he was undone by a penalty kill that allowed three goals on three Avalanche power plays — one in each period.
The loss was a pretty harsh comedown for the Hawks, snapping their modest point streak at three games, their longest since late January. For the first time since their death spiral in February, fun had crept back into the Hawks’ dressing room.
‘‘It’s always better winning,’’ defenseman Duncan Keith said before the game. ‘‘But for some reason, there’s been a really good vibe in the room since the Islanders game [last Saturday]. Just more positivity and trying to make a concerted effort to keep it that way.’’
Delia showed good perspective for a 23-year-old. He was happy for emergency goalie Scott Foster, who finished off his victory against the Jets, and chalked up the cramping to staying on the ice longer at the morning skate because he wasn’t scheduled to start.
‘‘Maybe I need to be a little bit more wise,’’ he said. ‘‘Sometimes, maybe too much for my own good, I’m just so competitive. And sometimes it bites you in the butt.’’
For the third consecutive game, at least one Hawks player made his NHL debut. This time it was defenseman Blake Hillman, who had plenty of friends, family and former teammates from the University of Denver in the building to cheer him on.
‘‘He was all right,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘I didn’t mind him.’’
No mas, Tomas?
The game was the 19th in a row that Hawks winger Tomas Jurco played, his longest such streak in more than two years. His has been a fitful career, marked by healthy scratches and lengthy stints in the American Hockey League, his undeniable talent never really translating to the scoresheet.
Like any player, though, the more he plays, the better he feels. The first two-goal game of his career Thursday gave him six goals and four assists in 27 games this season.
Jurco will be a restricted free agent this summer, and his future is uncertain because of the seasonlong influx of young forwards. But Jurco hopes these last two months are enough to earn him another chance with the Hawks.
‘‘For sure, I would like to stay here,’’ he said. ‘‘I like the system. The city’s great, everything around the hockey is great, the people are great. There’s really not a reason for me to not want to come back. If I’m going to be playing [a lot], like I am right now, it’s going to be great for me.’’
Defenseman Jan Rutta was scratched to make room for Hillman. Center Jonathan Toews and winger John Hayden skated in Chicago and might play Wednesday against the Blues in St. Louis.