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Lapointe, power play lift Blackhawks over Avalanche

Oct 17, 2006 - 3:49 AM DENVER (Ticker) -- A poor power play was one reason the Chicago Blackhawks struggled last season. Things have been different in the early stages of the new campaign.

Martin Lapointe scored two goals, including the game-winner, and the Blackhawks netted three power-play tallies en route to a 5-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

Lapointe opened the scoring with the man advantage with one minute remaining in the first period and snapped a 3-3 tie early in the third.

"In St. Louis, we didn't come out hard," Lapointe said of Saturday's 3-2 defeat to the Blues. "Tonight, we made a conscious effort to make a good forecheck and we did that right off the bat in first period, and it showed.

"We scored two goals and after the first and second period, we said we had to put pressure on their D and get them to turn the puck over, and we did that tonight."

Lapointe streaked down the right side and beat Colorado goaltender Jose Theodore with a low-percentage shot on a sharp angle from the right of the faceoff circle to give Chicago a 4-3 lead at 5:26 of the third period.

"I just tried to shoot the puck as hard as I can and that one was a perfect shot, a foot off the ice and right over his pad," Lapointe said. "I'm glad it went in."

Theodore got a piece of the puck with his glove, but not enough as it sailed into the net.

"I didn't think that (Lapointe) was going to shoot that quick," said Theodore, who finished with 26 saves. "I thought he was going to walk in, but he beat me. Like I said, it's a quick shot, but it's no excuse. I should have had that."

Lasse Kukkonen and Radim Vrbata also scored with the man advantage for the Blackhawks, who jumped to a 3-0 lead before allowing three straight goals by the Avalanche.

Chicago finished 3-for-10 on the power play and is 7-for-29 this season. By contrast, the Blackhawks posted a league-low 14.6 percent conversion rate with the extra skater.

"It's easy to jump on the power play when they don't score in a game because you get seven or eight chances," Chicago coach Trent Yawney said. "At the same time, power plays are cyclic. I thought the guys did a good job recovering pucks and they're very aggressive and we moved it quicker than they could rotate it around."

Joe Sakic, Tyler Arnason and Patrice Brisebois scored for Colorado, which went 2-for-6 with the extra skater.

"We're not happy with the way we started the game," Colorado right wing Ian Laperriere said. "We gave them a chance to get in the game with a lot of power plays. We might have played a little better in the last 40 minutes."

Colorado tied the contest, 3-3, at 2:01 of the third period when Brisebois took a pass in the right circle from Milan Hejduk and beat Chicago goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin.

Colorado faces the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first contest of a three-game road trip on Wednesday.

"Its early in the season and we have to learn from our mistakes, and we have to be ready for that road trip because it won't be easy," Laperriere said.

The Avalanche's 487-game home sellout streak, the longest in NHL history, was snapped in Monday's game. The last time Colorado did not sell out a home game was November 1, 1995, against the Calgary Flames.

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