Snowball effect: Blackhawks rally in third period to defeat Avalanche (Updated)

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Better late than never for the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.

Playing an extraordinarily bad Colorado Avalanche team, the Blackhawks rallied from a 3-1 deficit to score five goals in the third period — three goals in 34 seconds and four goals in 3:02 — for a 6-3 victory.

They now lead the Central Division by seven points over the Minnesota Wild, who are in a world of trouble after a fifth straight defeat and eight losses in 10 games this month.

That said, there was certainly some controversy with Chicago’s second goal as it appeared Jonathan Toews was offside on the rush about 17 seconds before the goal was actually scored. Colorado coach Jared Bednar challenged the play, and even television commentators were pretty much resigned to the goal being disallowed based on the review, but the goal stood.

Here’s the explanation (with video of the entire review) from the NHL’s Situation Room:

At 10:17 of the third period in the Avalanche/Blackhawks game, Colorado requested a Coach’s Challenge to review whether Chicago’s Jonathan Toews was off-side prior to his goal. 

Review was not conclusive in determining whether Toews tagged up at the instant the puck was on Richard Panik‘s stick when Chicago entered the attacking zone prior to the goal. According to Rule 78.7, “If a review is not conclusive and/or there is any doubt whatsoever as to whether the call on the ice was correct, the On-Ice Official(s) will be instructed to confirm their original call.”

Therefore the original call stands – good goal Chicago Blackhawks. 

(The 3:24 mark of the video is where you’ll find the best angle during the review.)

“I thought it was the right call,” said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, per CSN Chicago. “It doesn’t trigger the offside until he touches the puck and Jonny gets his skate back on time, right at probably the same time as we touch it. You could say it was a tie. That’s the Minnesota play.”

The decision left Colorado’s coach perplexed.

“I don’t necessarily understand it, but it’s a tag-up rule,” Bednar told the Denver Post. “It wasn’t on his stick. That is what it is. For me, it’s 3-2, nine-and-a-half minutes to go, that gives them a little life. It’s what we do after that that bothers me.”

As noted above, that goal started the Blackhawks rally.

Toews scored twice in the third period and is now up to 20 goals this season, joining some elite company with that franchise.