DENVER — Colin Wilson scored his first goal in more than a month, Philipp Grubauer stopped 29 shots and the playoff-chasing Colorado Avalanche earned their fourth straight win by holding off the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 on Saturday.
J.T. Compher and Sven Andrighetto also scored. Derick Brassard added an empty-netter for an Avalanche team in the thick of the Western Conference wild-card hunt with seven games remaining. They entered the day a point behind Minnesota for the last spot, with the Wild playing later.
Colorado had an array of forwards step up with All-Star Mikko Rantanen missing the game with an upper-body injury. Wilson came through with his first goal since Feb. 7.
Grubauer kept up his torrid play by winning his fourth straight start. He’s allowed four goals over stretch.
Jonathan Toews and Erik Gustafsson had goals for Chicago, while Corey Crawford stopped 21 shots. The loss was a blow for the Blackhawks, who are making a late charge but are now six points behind Colorado.
The two teams face each other again Sunday as part of a back-to-back, home-and-home set.
Andrighetto’s tip-in goal 1:26 into the third period gave the Avalanche a 3-1 lead.
Gustafsson scored with 7:56 remaining on a shot from the blue line, but Brassard wrapped things up on an empty-net goal with 2:20 left.
There was a scary moment in the second period when defenceman Tyson Barrie was hit near the eye by the stick of David Kampf with Colorado on the power play. Barrie quickly skated toward the locker room holding his face.
The Avalanche capitalized on the two-man advantage as Wilson made it 2-1 on a pass from Alexander Kerfoot, who finished with two assists. Moments later, Barrie returned with a bandage over his cut.
Colorado took the early lead in the second period after Compher tipped in a shot. It was the third goal this season against Chicago for the Northbrook, Illinois, native.
Soon after, the Blackhawks tied it up when defenceman Nikita Zadorov turned over the puck near the goal and Toews knocked it in.
The speed of both teams was on display in a scoreless first period that didn’t feature many stoppages. On one occasion, the two teams went about 4 minutes in between whistles.
NOTES: Blackhawks C Dylan Sikura had an assist. … Zadorov made a young fan’s day in pregame by giving her a hockey stick as she sat in the first row. … NHL referee Brad Watson officiated his 1,393rd and final regular-season game Saturday. The players skated over and congratulated him after the game. … Rantanen was hurt Thursday when he was hit into the boards in a win at Dallas. … Captain Gabriel Landeskog remains sidelined by an upper-body injury.
Same two teams meet Sunday in Chicago.
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Pat Graham, The Associated Press