Avalanche Blackhawks Hockey

Colorado Avalanche's Cale Makar (8) celebrates his game winning goal with Nathan MacKinnon (29) and Gabriel Landeskog during the overtime period of an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, in Chicago. The Avalanche won 4-3. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Plan B was a beauty.

During overtime Tuesday in Chicago, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar took the puck around the boards and said he saw his pass close up. In a split second he’d changed tactics and direction, leaving the Blackhawks’ Kirby Dach in his wake.

“Just a spur-of-a-moment thing,” Makar said.

Makar went in short-side, fooled goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and put it into the top of the cage. The Avalanche won 4-3 after squandering a two-goal lead.

Out came a dip and a fist pump — a showy goal celebration by Makar’s understated standards.

“He’s an unflappable guy and so humble,” teammate Erik Johnson said. “We all saw how special that goal was, but he’s as modest as ever and doesn’t make a big deal about it, and just a pleasure to be around.”

Veteran defenseman Johnson had already done his part on offense, scoring the first and third Colorado goals and forcing overtime. It was his first multi-goal game since 2014 and only the second of his career.

“Two goals are meaningless if he doesn’t put that in at the end,” Johnson said. “For sure I’m glad it overshadowed it.

“Don’t put the puck in the back of the net as much as I used to, but any time you can contribute and help the team get a victory like tonight ... all in all, I will take it.”

Alex Newhook’s own shifty goal provided Colorado with a 2-0 lead. A lackluster second period, however, allowed the Blackhawks to get within a goal on a Jonathan Toews tap-in.

Colorado gave the Blackhawks more than a minute of 5-on-3 time in the third period and Chicago’s Alex DeBrincat scored twice, 40 seconds apart. Johnson’s second goal of the night came with 8:16 left in regulation. From the boards he threw a shot on net, which flew through a tangle of legs and goalie pads.

“Giving it up in the third there, not ideal,” Makar said. “But at the same time, especially on the back end, we stuck with it. We just kept grinding and I think it showed.”

Colorado’s defensemen have an NHL-best 32 goals and 98 points through 29 games this season. Makar leads league blueliners with a career-high 14 goals.

The goalpost denied Nathan MacKinnon in the third period but helped the Avalanche in overtime when Toews tried to put the puck over sprawled goaltender Darcy Kuemper (28 saves).

MacKinnon sprinted back to break up a 2-on-1 late and the Avalanche’s Devon Toews made a prudent play to extend overtime.

Logan O'Connor was tripped up by former Denver teammate Henrik Borgstrom, now playing for the Blackhawks, during the first period and appeared to chip a tooth. He finished the game.

The Avalanche defense came through repeatedly while pulling double shifts after Jack Johnson left the game with a lower-body injury. He didn’t return after playing 7:01.

“I don’t know the extent of the injury or what kind of timeline he’s going to be on, but for tonight’s game, we felt like it was the right thing to do,” coach Jared Bednar said.

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