I, for one, blame the altitude.
The Chicago Blackhawks' historic point streak to open the 2013 season came to an abrupt end Friday night, as the club was finally felled in 60 minutes, and decisively, too: the Colorado Avalanche handed them a 6-2 loss.
It's the first game that Steven Schucker is probably glad to have boycotted.
The Avalanche came into Friday night tied for 15th in the Western Conference basement, so watching them end the run is a little like watching Kenard shoot Omar Little. It just doesn't seem right.
But in a way, the loss underscored what made Chicago's streak so remarkable in the first place.
There are no easy wins in the NHL. With parity being what it is, a 25-point separation in the standings means very little. The line between the league's top team and the its bottom team is razor thin. It's always possible for any club, even one of the league's lesser lights, to beat any other club on any given night. Considering that, the fact that Chicago only just now collected their first regulation loss is incredible.
But it just wasn't meant to be on this night. For the first time in two months, nothing went Chicago's way. Corey Crawford had an off night. He was pulled after allowing 5 goals on 19 shots. Patrick Kane had an off night. He registered just 1 shot, and finished the night a minus-2.
With three minutes remaining in the game, Brent Seabrook tripped inside the trapezoid with no one else near him. It was just that kind of night, the sort of evening the Blackhawks have managed to avoid, against the odds, for half a season.
Before the game, Nick Cotsonika wrote about Chicago playing on a different cloud, but the Hawks finally came crashing down to earth in the second period. After the two clubs traded goals in the first, Matt Duchene led the Avalanche to 4 goals in a 10-minute span in the middle frame. Just like that, it was 5-1.
It was a strange position for the Hawks to be in -- not only had they not trailed by four all season, they had yet to even trail by three.
They wouldn't get any closer. While Chicago fans have grown accustomed to the club's late-game heroics, there were none to be found on this night. The clubs traded goals again in the third, and when the final horn sounded, with the Colorado fans chanting "End of streak!", the Blackhawks were forced to remember how to leave the ice without points.
It probably felt really weird.
They'll get over it. "We’ve lost games before in our lives," said Duncan Keith. "It’s not like we’re going to sit here and cry now."
And now the Blackhawks will have to draw on past losses in order to remember how to bounce back, before they start a streak in the other direction. After all, they're now 0-1 in the second half of the season and they've been outscored over that span by ratio of 3 to 1. Here's hoping they can right the ship.
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