There's something about playing the Colorado Avalanche that brings out the best in Blackhawks rookies.
It was against the Avalanche in last season's Oct. 19 game that Patrick Kane scored his first career goal and Jonathan Toews amazed the NHL world with his highlight-reel effort for a score. Monday night it was Troy Brouwer's turn against Colorado and he delivered with his first career goal to help spark a 6-2 Hawks victory before a crowd of 21,142 at the United Center.
The win was the Hawks' third in a row and improved their home record to 5-0-2. Overall, the Hawks are 6-3-3, their best start since the 2001-02 season—the last time they reached the postseason.
In addition to Brouwer's goal, Andrew Ladd and Patrick Sharp each had two and Cam Barker one as the Hawks improved to 5-1-2 under coach Joel Quenneville, who had a 131-92-23 record as coach of the Avalanche from 2005-08.
"That was a big goal," Ladd said of Brouwer's score. "I think it was the turning point in the game because we were starting to go the other way at that point. It really kind of jump-started us."
Brouwer's goal came in his 18th NHL game and was after Colorado's Ben Guite and Ladd had traded goals. In the waning minutes of the second period, Sharp sent a pass that deflected off Brouwer and bounced off the right post and settled near the goal line before the rookie knocked it in for a 2-1 Hawks lead.
"I was pretty overdue for that," Brouwer said. "It just feels real good. It's one of those things you can't wait to do once you get into the league. It makes it that much better that you get the win and the two points.
"You're probably not going to score an easier goal than that, especially your first goal."
Barker's power-play goal early in the third gave the Hawks a 3-1 lead. The defenseman fired a slap shot from the top of the circles that Colorado goalie Peter Budaj got a piece of, but the puck got past him for Barker's second goal of the season.
Milan Hejduk scored less than a minute later to bring the Avs within 3-2, but Sharp extended the Hawks' lead off a nice passing play between Ladd, Jonathan Toews and Sharp. Ladd, who had a career-high three points, carried the puck over the line, passed to Toews, who found Sharp between the circles, and the veteran fired a wrist shot over Budaj's left shoulder.
Ladd's second goal of the game came on a wrist shot off a pass from behind the net by Dustin Byfuglien in the waning minutes to make it 5-2, and Sharp's second tally came off a slap shot from between the circles.
"We were on track the first 30 minutes and then we stopped working and kept getting outworked," said Avalanche coach Tony Granato, a Downers Grove native.
The game was the first of five straight at home for the Hawks. They have five off days before playing again at home on Sunday night against Calgary.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times