Collin Delia dominates the Avalanche in season debut

Dec 21, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) controls the puck past Chicago Blackhawks center David Kampf (64) in the second period at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche were defeated by a struggling Chicago Blackhawks team by the score of 2-1 Friday night, letting an important two points slip through its grasp.

Colorado (36) had eight more shots on goal than Chicago (28) and held a significant advantage in total shot attempts, 71-41. Unfortunately for the Avalanche, only one found the back of the net.

“It’s frustrating when you create a lot of chances, and I don’t think they got a lot of chances,” Mikko Rantanen said postgame. “Grubi made a lot of really nice saves there to keep us in the game, but I think this is one game we should have won.”

The Avalanche controlled most of the first period, having spent a majority in Chicago’s zone. Blackhawks goaltender Collin Delia, making his first NHL start of the year and third of his career, was able to ward off Colorado’s threats, and it was the Blackhawks who would get on the scoreboard first.

Fresh out of the penalty box, Dominik Kahun came in on a two-on-one against Sam Girard and Kahun slid a pass across to Alex DeBrincat, who just barely shot it past Philipp Grubauer as he slid across his crease in a full split. Grubauer nearly made a spectacular save as he got a piece of DeBrincat’s shot, but it ricoched off of the goaltender and into the net.

Colorado was able to build off of the momentum from the first period and come out of the dressing room flying in the second period. Just under three minutes into the period,  J.T. Compher scored the first and only goal of the night for the Avalanche. Compher was positioned in the high-slot and was able to score off an assist from Alexander Kerfoot when he passed the puck throug a couple Blackhawks defenders from behind the net.

While the Avalanche controlled the pace of play and out-shot the Blackhawks throughout the evening, they were unable to create a lot of legitimate scoring threats in the second period. Aside from Erik Johnson hitting the post shortly after Compher’s goal, the Avs just were not able to get quality shots off.

“There’s some good NHL goalies and there’s a lot of goalies that haven’t gotten their chance yet and he played well,” Gabe Landeskog said. “I also thought we were snakebitten and got unlucky on a few.”

The Blackhawks scored the game-winner early in the third period on what should have been a routine save for Grubauer. Kane entered the zone and fired one on net and the puck trickled through Grubauer, allowing Artem Anisimov to knock it in off the goalline.

“It’s one I would like to have back, but it is what it is,” Grubauer said. “After a goal like that, or after any other goal, the next step is to come up with a big save or the next save. It happens. You’ve got to move on.”

The Avalanche continued to fight but were faced with more adversity when Colin Wilson left the game with an upper-body injury as the Avalanche made their push to tie the score.

Bednar commented on the injury saying, “He’s going to be out, upper-body injury. He’s, I’d say, week-to-week and not day-to-day.”

The Avalanche, who have been dangerous all year on the power play, have found themselves in a bit of a slump with the man advantage going 0-5 on the night after going 0-4 against Montreal earlier in the week.

The Avalanche have another quick turnaround as they play their sixth back-to-back of the year Saturday night against the Arizona Coyotes. Colorado is 3-1-1 this season on the second night of back-to-back sets.

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