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DENVER (AP) — The best start in NHL history is over. The Chicago Blackhawks finally left the ice without a point.
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.
Matt Duchene scored four points and Ryan O’Reilly got his first goal since his contract dispute was resolved more than a week ago. O’Reilly assisted on another goal in a four-goal onslaught in the second period that turned a 1-1 tie into a laugher.
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.
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.
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.
The crowd chanted, “End of streak! End of streak!” over the final minutes.
Bryan Bickell’s goal with 11:07 left made it 5-2. He nearly scored again from the same spot 90 seconds later, but Varlamov smothered the shot.
The teams got into a scuffle with 5:04 left after Bickell squared off with Gabriel Landeskog, who had checked Duncan Keith in the back.
P.A. Parenteau’s 10th goal of the season made it 6-2.
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 Paul 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.
O’Reilly’s goal came on a slap shot from the top of the right circle 4 seconds into another power play. Duchene set him up with a pass after Stastny won the faceoff.
Duchene got his third assist when he dug out a loose puck from the boards in a scramble with Keith and kicked it out to McGinn, who put made it 5-1.
The Blackhawks’ run comes with somewhat of an asterisk because they actually lost three games along the way — all in shootouts. Under NHL rules, that’s still worth a point, but that makes it different from what the Flyers accomplished nearly a quarter-century ago.
During that streak, Philadelphia won 25 games and tied 10. There was no overtime until the playoffs, and the shootout was still a far-off creation. If the teams were tied after 60 minutes, that’s how it ended. Each got a point.
Nowadays, both teams still receive a point if the game is tied at the end of regulation. Then, the team that scores in a five-minute, four-skaters-a-side overtime period or wins the shootout gets an extra point.
NOTES: Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson returned to the lineup after missing 11 games with a head injury. … Chicago RW Michael Frolik returned from an illness that sidelined him for two games. … The Blackhawks were without forward Patrick Sharp, who left Wednesday’s home win over the Avalanche with a shoulder injury after being checked along the boards by Colorado’s Ryan O’Byrne. … The Avalanche matched their season high for goals.
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