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Colorado Avalanche (28-12-5) at Chicago Blackhawks (30-8-10)

January 14th, 2014 at 11:08 AM
By Andrew McIntyre

The Chicago Blackhawks play host to Central Division rival, the Colorado Avalanche tonight on what's expected to be another high-scoring game between the two teams.  The Blackhawks finally got back in the win column on Sunday with a 5-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. The Blackhawks had dropped three in a row prior to that. The Avalanche are 2-0-1 in their last three and have won five of their last seven. This is the third of five games between the teams with the home team winning the first two games.

Here are some notes for tonight's game:

  • In two games against each other this season, the Blackhawks and Avalanche have combined to score 15 goals. Colorado won the first game 5-1 in November and the Blackhawks won the most recent game 7-2 on December 27.
  • Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp had three goals and one assist in the last meeting between the teams. Sharp leads the Blackhawks with 25 goals.
  • Jonathan Toews enters tonight's game on a six-game point streak, recording seven points over that stretch. Toews has 22 points over his last 17 games and ranks third on the Blackhawks in goals (17) and points (47).
  • The Avs will be without forward Paul Stastny as he will sit out with a lower-body injury. Stastny has 13 goals and 21 assists this season, including nine points over his last five games. They are also without forward P.A. Parenteau who is on the injured reserve with a knee injury. Parenteau has nine goals and 15 assists in 38 games.
  • Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie has rejoined the team after missing a couple of days with a shoulder injury. Barrie has 11 points this season.

Battle Between The Pipes

Chicago Blackhawks: Corey Crawford (17-7-6, 2.47 GAA, .911 SV%)

Crawford will get the start tonight for the Blackhawks. He is 0-1-3 since returning from a lower-body injury, allowing 10 goals during that stretch. Crawford has been playing better as of late and has kept his team in several games by making a plethora of saves. Unlike teammate Antti Raanta, Crawford hasn't been the beneficiary of a high-octane Blackhawks offense over his last few starts and has been handed losses despite his strong performances.

Colorado Avalanche: Semyon Varlamov (21-8-5, 2.35 GAA, .926 SV%)

Varlamov is expected to get the start as J.S. Giguere is out with back spasms. The team has recalled goaltender Sami Aittokallia as insurance. Varlamov is 5-0-1 in his last six games and hasn't suffered a regulation loss since December 10 against Phoenix. In two games against the Blackhawks this season, Varlamov has stopped 49 of the 50 shots he has faced.

Players To Watch

Chicago Blackhawks: Forward, Patrick Kane: 23 G, 33 A, 56 P

Kane picked up two points on Sunday after going three games without a point. Kane has constantly been teamed up with new linemates and although he's not complaining, you can tell he is having a hard time adjusting to each player. Andrew Shaw centered his line last game and could get the call again tonight.

Colorado Avalanche: Forward, Matt Duchene: 16 G, 23 A, 39 P

Duchene is tied for the team lead in goals and he leads the team in points, however he only has one point over his last four games. Duchene was recently chosen to represent Canada in the Olympics. With less than a month left before the players head to Sochi, Duchene will try to cement his spot on one of the top lines.

X Factors

Chicago Blackhawks: Forward, Brandon Saad: 15 G, 17 A, 32 P

Saad is in his second year in the NHL, but is already starting to make a strong impact for the Blackhawks. He is fifth on the team in goals and tied for sixth in points. He does however only have one point over his last five games and hopes to get back on track tonight.

Colorado Avalanche: Forward, Ryan O'Reilly: 16 G, 14 A, 30 P

O'Reilly has four goals over his last five games. He continues to make an impact for the Avalanche and is among the team leaders in minutes played each night. In his fifth year in the league, O'Reilly is just two goals shy of tying his season-high of 18 set in 2011-2012. 

Tonight's game starts at 7 pm. CT.

Let's Go Hawks!

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