Blackhawks' streak ends with 6-2 loss to Avs

Saturday - 3/9/2013, 4:10am EST

ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Sports Writer

DENVER (AP) -- The best start in NHL history is over. The Chicago Blackhawks finally left the ice without a point -- but with their heads held high.

The Blackhawks were stunned 6-2 by the struggling Colorado Avalanche on Friday night. It was their first loss in regulation and ended a remarkable run in which they earned at least one point in their first 24 games, an NHL record.

"We're proud of it, but it'll be nice to move on now," defenseman Duncan Keith said. "It's hockey, we've lost games before in our lives. It's not like we're going to sit here and cry."

Instead, they'll sit back and celebrate, said coach Joel Quenneville, who told his team afterward "that they should be very proud of what they accomplished. They found different ways to win, night in and night out, and everyone contributed to something that hadn't been done.

"It's a great feather in our cap, but let's move forward here and try to get better. Certainly it was a lot of fun up to today."

The Blackhawks (21-1-3) hadn't lost in regulation since a 6-1 rout by Nashville on March 25, 2012, and their last loss in regulation on the road came more than a year ago, with a 5-1 defeat at St. Louis on March 6, 2012.

Dating back to last year's regular season, the streak was 30 games.

Chicago's overall points streak was the second longest in NHL history. The 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers set the league record with a staggering 35-game unbeaten streak that included 25 wins and 10 ties -- all in the same season.

Ending it was a jolt of adrenaline for the Avalanche, who started the night in last place in the Northwest Division.

"It's special, said Matt Duchene, who scored four points. "It's obviously something no one had done yet. But what a run by them. I mean, first of all, congratulations to them. What a run they had. I don't think they're going to slow down because of this. But it's pretty special. It's a good feeling in here. We're pretty happy."

Ryan O'Reilly got his first goal since his contract dispute was resolved more than a week ago and assisted on another goal in a four-goal onslaught in the second period that turned a 1-1 tie into a laugher, and Paul Stastny collected three points.

Duchene, John Mitchell and Jamie McGinn also put pucks past Corey Crawford in the second period for the Avalanche, who had lost six of their previous seven, including a 3-2 heartbreaker at Chicago 48 hours earlier.

Crawford (11-1-3) allowed five goals on 19 shots before being replaced in net by Ray Emery to start the third period.

"I didn't have it tonight," Crawford said. "Didn't give our guys a chance."

Semyon Varlamov had 30 saves for Colorado.

The Avalanche nearly ended the spectacular streak in Chicago on Wednesday night before the Blackhawks pulled out the win when Daniel Carcillo scored the tiebreaking goal with 49.3 seconds left. Chicago was skating without three key forwards and playing its second game in two nights then.

There was no such comeback Friday night at the Pepsi Center, where a good portion of the sellout crowd was rooting for the Blackhawks, who hadn't allowed more than four goals in a game this season or even trailed by more than two goals until the Avs' spectacular second period.

"It's a great confidence booster," Duchene said. "It shows us we can play with anybody in this league."

The crowd chanted, "End of streak! End of streak!" over the final minutes after P.A. Parenteau's 10th goal of the season made it 6-2.

Bryan Bickell's goal with 11:07 pulled the Blackhawks to 5-2 and he nearly scored again from the same spot 90 seconds later, but Varlamov smothered the shot, and that was that.

The teams got into a scuffle with 5:04 left after Bickell squared off with Gabriel Landeskog, who had checked Keith in the back.

Chicago's Jonathan Toews got the scoring started when he knocked the puck past Varlamov after a turnover on a give-and-go with forward Marian Hossa, who returned from an upper-body injury.

Colorado (9-10-4) tied it when Stastny, who was between the circles, tipped a pass from Duchene into the net. It was a rare power play goal for the Avalanche, who came into the game ranked 29th in the league with just 82 shots when skating with a man advantage.

Duchene's goal between Crawford's legs made it 2-1. Just 33 seconds later, Mitchell scored on an assist from O'Reilly, who was signed to a two-year $10 million deal last week after the Avalanche matched Calgary's offer sheet following a nasty contract dispute.