Hawks lose 4-3 in OT to spoil opener
DENVER — With their Stanley Cup a glorious memory still fresh in their minds, the Blackhawks
began a new journey in an attempt to repeat the feat.
The Hawks took the ice Thursday night in a game that mattered for the first time since skating off with the Cup after their Game 6 finals victory over the Flyers in June. They faced the Avalanche at Pepsi Center in the opening game of this season with some fresh faces and plenty of familiar ones in their quest to become the first back-to-back champs since the Red Wings
"Still to this day it's kind of surreal that we did what we did last year," winger Patrick Kane
said. "It's a new season now. What happened last year is in the past and we have to move forward."
The first step forward turned into a stumble as the Hawks fell 4-3 in overtime when Paul Stastny scored the game-winner in overtime for the Avalanche.
Chris Stewart, Matt Duchene and Stastny scored in regulation and the Avalanche had strong goaltending from Park Ridge native Craig Anderson. Veteran netminder Marty Turco
suffered the loss in his Hawks debut.
For the Hawks, Bryan Bickell
scored in the first period, Marian Hossa
in the second and Patrick Sharp
on a power play midway through the third.
With 10 players gone from the championship roster, it's a new-look Hawks team featuring five newcomers who never had donned the Indian head in a regular-season game before Thursday —Turco, Fernando Pisani, Viktor Stalberg, John Scott and Nick Leddy — and several youngsters handed the responsibility of filling the skates of the departed players.
They started off on the right foot when Bickell, who played in 16 games last season, got the season off in a positive way with the first Hawks goal early in the first. While on the power play, Bickell rifled a shot from the right circle past Anderson to the glove side.
The Avalanche then took the lead on scores by Stewart, who beat Turco from in close late in the first, and Duchene early in the second after the center redirected a long shot by Adam Foote
. Stastny made it 3-1 later in the second with a power-play score from the left circle that eluded Turco. In the waning minutes of the period, Hossa tipped in a pass from Sharp to cut the deficit to 3-2 entering the third.
"It presents different challenges and opportunities," defenseman Duncan Keith
said of the turnover of the roster. "Every year you go into a new year looking forward and excited about what lies ahead and it's definitely going to be a new challenge this year, new group of guys. But we're all excited."
One of the biggest challenges ahead is recreating the chemistry that bonded the team into a cohesive unit on and off the ice.
"Chemistry takes a little while to build and for this group it has developed kind of fast," Kane said. "It seems like everyone gets along pretty well
"Once again, there are really no cliques around the locker room. Everyone hangs out as a team. As tight as we were, we want that feeling back again."