CHICAGO (AP) — Skating in his home state, J.T. Compher helped keep the Colorado Avalanche rolling.
Compher scored his second goal of the game on a breakaway to snap a tie with 5:22 left in the third period, and Colorado beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-3 Friday night for its third straight win.
Compher, from the Chicago suburb of Northbrook, Illinois, broke in alone from center ice after taking a pass from Patrik Nemeth and beat Collin Delia with a shot over the glove.
“It’s always fun coming back to play here,” said Compher, a 23-year-old forward in his third NHL season. “I’ve done it a few times now and to get a big win like this is extra special.”
The Avalanche kept pace with Minnesota and pulled ahead of Chicago in the race for the final wild card in the Western Conference. The Wild occupy the second wild-card spot with 64 points. The Avalanche have 63, and Chicago remained at 61.
Carl Soderberg also had two goals, including a short-handed empty-netter, and Gabriel Landeskog scored his 32nd goal early in the third. Colorado got 41 saves from Semyon Varlamov.
Varlamov was sharp as he improved to 4-1-0 in his last five games. He’s given up seven goals and has a 1.41 goals-against average during the stretch.
“He’s been outstanding,” Landeskog said. “He’s always trying to better his game. It’s awesome to see when he comes up big for us.”
Patrick Kane scored his 39th goal to extend his points streak to 20 games and goal-scoring run to five straight. Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat also scored for Chicago, while Jonathan Toews and Erik Gustafssson each had two assists.
Delia finished 26 saves as Chicago lost for just the third time in its last 13. Kane has 17 goals and 26 assists during his points streak.
Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton was happy with his team’s effort against a rival.
“We’re head-to-head with the team we’re battling with,” Colliton said. “We were really good. I thought it was one of our better efforts of the year, and certainly recently.
“Sometimes the results don’t go your way. The challenge is to reproduce that level and if we do, I think we’ll get our fair share of points.”
Colorado led 1-0 after a brisk first period that had only one whistle in the opening 9:45.
Soderberg opened the scoring with 3:51 left to cap a rush. After plowing past Gustafsson, Soderberg drove to then net, took a pass from Alexander Kerfoot and beat Delia between the pads for this career-high 20th goal.
Strome tied it with a power-play goal at 10:48 of the second. Gustafsson’s shot from the blue line whizzed past the left post. The puck bounced off the back board and to Strome, who tucked it in from the edge of the crease.
Compher’s power-play goal with 1:55 left in the second put Colorado back ahead, 2-1. He connected from the right side of the slot, and was set up by Mikko Rantanen on a play from a faceoff.
The Blackhawks replied from a faceoff in the Colorado zone when Kane scored with 29 seconds left in the frame. Kane was wide open in the right circle when he one-timed in a cross-ice feed from Toews.
Landeskog put Colorado in front 3-2 at 3:36 of the third after he rode Toews off the puck deep in the Chicago zone. The Avalanche captain kept skating with the puck, circled across the slot, fired and beat Delia low on the glove side.
DeBrincat backhanded in a second rebound midway through the third on a power play to tie it at 3.
With Colorado ahead 4-3, the Blackhawks pressured during a power play and with Delia pulled for an extra attacker in the final 1:43. Varlamov was sharp before Soderberg sealed it with his empty-netter with 34 seconds left.
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