DENVER (AP) - Corey Crawford kept his team in it early. Patrick Sharp made it pay off late.
Crawford stopped 13 shots in the first period to withstand an early charge, Sharp broke a tie early in the third period and the Chicago Blackhawks went on to beat Colorado 3-1 on Thursday night to snap the Avalanche's winning streak at five games.
Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist and Marian Hossa also scored to help the Blackhawks sweep a two-game trip that started in Phoenix on Tuesday night.
They got the sweep thanks to Crawford, who had 31 saves.
``Tonight he stole the game for us,' Hossa said. ``He made some really key saves.'
That allowed Sharp to be the hero when he made it 2-1 with 13:40 left. Andrew Brunette put a hard shot on Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov from the slot and the rebound went to Sharp along the boards. Sharp skated into the right circle and beat Varlamov over his right shoulder for his second goal of the season.
``It was a shot from the outside. The puck was sitting there, I tried to fire it on net and get a rebound but luckily it went in,' Sharp said. ``I knew he was recovering to get back into position so I thought a quick shot would create a rebound or get by him.'
Colorado had a chance to tie it when Brent Seabrook drew a minor for tripping with 2:12 left. The Avalanche pulled Varmalov with 1:28 left, but Hossa scored into an empty net with 1:10 left.
``We had our chances. It was kind of a wavy game,' Colorado center Paul Stastny said. ``We were on our heels for a while then we were on our toes, back and forth.'
Ryan O'Byrne had a goal and Varlamov stopped 28 shots for Colorado.
Colorado averaged four goals a game during its win streak, which came on the road, but couldn't solve Crawford. The Avalanche had 11 of the first 13 shots but Crawford came up big to keep them off the board.
``We weathered that storm with him holding the fort early in the game,' Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. ``They've got some quickness and some speed in their game and we were in our end for the first 10 minutes. He was strong all game long. He was square and all the saves he made, his positioning was so good they didn't look they were great saves.
Crawford downplayed his early saves.
``They had a couple of good chances but our guys did a good job of keeping things to the outside,' he said.
The Blackhawks opened the scoring in the second period after being outshot 13-6 in the first 20 minutes. Toews lifted a backhander over Varlamov's right shoulder with 3:58 left in the period, his third goal of the season.
O'Byrne tied it at 1 with his first goal of the season. The defenseman pinched down and deflected Matt Duchene's shot past Crawford with 4:37 left in the first. The goal stood after a video review.
``It was a good opportunity to jump in and he just threw it at the net and it just bounced off my glove,' O'Byrne said. ``I knew it went off my glove right away. It's nice to get a goal, it's been a long time since I've scored.'
Colorado's best chance to score in the first came with 6:49 left when Ryan O'Reilly broke through the defense, but Crawford stopped him.
``We came out shooting the puck more, getting to the net,' O'Reilly said. ``We had our chances.'
Notes: Avalanche C Peter Mueller (head) missed his fourth straight game. Mueller missed all of last season after sustaining a concussion late in the 2009-10 season. ... O'Byrne's goal was Colorado's first at home this season. The Avalanche were shutout in their opener and needed 95:27 to get their first goal at Pepsi Center. ... The teams will play again Saturday night in Chicago.
The Associated Press News Service
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