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Three 1st round Chicago draft picks scored as the Blackhawks beat Colorado 5-3 at the United Center Friday.
Tuomo Ruutu deflected Magnus Johansson's long shot past goalie Jose Theodore in the final 85 seconds of regulation to break a 3-3 tie for the win. Robert Lang added an empty-netter 35 seconds later to seal the decision for his 4th of the season.
Toews, the team's #1 draft pick last year, tallied a highlight reel goal seven minutes into the game. The 19 year-old sped past three Colorado defenders and faked Theodore out of position to registered his 2nd NHL goal. He was set up on a pass from this year's #1 draft choice, Patrick Kane.
Less than three minutes later, Patrick Sharp was in perfect position to grab a rebound off a Jason Williams' shot to bury a 5-footer past Theodore.
The Hawks went up 3-0 at the 14:36 mark when Kane teamed up on a 2-on-1 with Sharp to notch his 1st career goal.
Despite the score, Hawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin was busy keeping his team ahead. The Avalanche fired 14 shots with the Chicago netminder coming up big on scoring chances by Joe Sakic, Paul Stasny and Scott Hannan.
In the middle period, the visitors came on, outshooting the Hawks 18-10, and finally scored at 15:21 with Wojtek Wolski ramming an 8-footer past Khibibulin to make it 3-1.
Khabibulin had robbed Wolski twice earlier in the period in addition to making sensational saves on Sakic, Stasny and Milan Hejduk, who left the game with a back injury later in the period.
Colorado continued the pressure to start the 3rd period with Marek Svatos cutting the lead to 3-2 in the opening 40 seconds.
The Avalanche tied the game at 7:35 when Ryan Smyth tipped a pass from Andrew Brunette on a power play.
The game appeared to be heading for overtime when Kane fed a great pass to Johansson and he fired a long shot just inside the blue line that Ruutu, the team's top pick in 2001, deflected in for the winner.
Coach Denis Savard praised his rookies and also singled out Khabibulin as being terrific to keep his team in the game.
Chicago's Duncan Keith led all skaters with 25+ minutes.
Colorado outshot the Hawks 40-27 and was 1-of-5 on the power play while Chicago was 0-of-5.
The Hawks are now 4-3 while the Avalanche fell to 4-3 with all of their losses on the road.
Chicago left immediately after the game for a Saturday battle in Toronto against the Maple Leafs. They'll return to the United Center Tuesday (7:30 pm) for a match with Central Division rival Columbus.
AP Notes: Although Kane's goal was his first, he had scored in a shootout on Oct. 6 against Detroit to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 win. ... Colorado's Stastny has five goals and nine assist in seven games. ...Chicago LW Rene Bourque missed his second game because of a groin strain. Blackhawks RW Martin Havlat missed his sixth game due to a right shoulder injury and will be out four-to-six weeks. ... Colorado RW Milan Hejduk re-aggravated a back injury in the second period and didn't return. ... Avalanche RW Brad Richardson missed his seventh game with wrist injury suffered in training camp.
Head coach Joel Quenneville: "We gotta get better on the road. Digging a three-hole gap is gigantic. I can’t believe we got back in it two games in a row. We can’t give up that last goal. That bothers me more than giving up a three-goal lead.
"It’s tough playing hockey the way we have to play when we’re down 3-4. It’s not the way we’re going to have success. We want to be a little more patient and take advantage of opportunities."
F Ryan Smyth: "We've got to find ways to not to get behind the eight ball and play catch-up hockey. By the end they find ways to capitalize on chances and it’s unacceptable for us to play 40 minutes of hockey, or 45 minutes of hockey. It’s not what we’ve set out to do. We gotta come right from the get go. Right from the start."
G Jose Theodore: "We showed a lot of character. Down 3-0 we kept working hard and were able to tie the game. At 3-3 it could go either way. They got the lucky bounce.
"I think they had some quality chances and there were some good players out there. A couple of 2-on-1’s, they made us pay the price I think. After that we kind of adjusted a little bit and the last two periods we really showed we can play."