The Avalanche hosts the Chicago Blackhawks for the last time this season on Tuesday night. It's the fifth and final meeting of 2016-17 for the Central-Division foes and the second that will be played at Pepsi Center.
The contest is the first of a two-game homestand, Colorado's last of the season before wrapping up the campaign on the road this weekend. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks have wrapped up their home slate, and Tuesday's game is the beginning of a three-game road trip that will close out the 2016-17 regular season.
Colorado is 1-3-0 against Chicago in 2016-17. The Avs have a 46-30-8 all-time record against the Blackhawks, including a 24-12-5 mark at home.
Last Time Out
The Avalanche fell 5-2 to the Minnesota Wild on Sunday evening at Xcel Energy Center. Colorado got goals from Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, and the Avalanche outshot the Wild 32-28, including by a 11-2 advantage in the third period. Devan Dubnyk finished with 30 saves and stopped all 11 he faced in the final stanza.
The Blackhawks were defeated by the Boston Bruins 3-2 on Sunday. Chicago fell behind 2-0 in the opening period and trailed 3-1 after 40 minutes. Jordan Tootoo scored near the midway point of the third stanza, but despite outshooting the Bruins 16-6 in the period--and 43-29 in the game--the Blackhawks were unable to find the equalizer, losing in regulation for just the second time in their last 12 outings.
Video: Altitude TV previews Avalanche vs. Blackhawks
Last Time they Met
The Blackhawks won the last meeting 6-3 on March 19 at United Center. Colorado held a 3-1 lead after two periods, but Chicago scored five unanswered goals in the third period to take a come-from-behind win. Mikhail Grigorenko scored two goals for the Avalanche, while Jonathan Toews had two tallies for Chicago. Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane each added a goal and an assist.
What to Watch
Avs Top Line
A bright spot in the Avalanche offense as of late has been the Sven Andrighetto-Nathan MacKinnon-Mikko Rantanen line. While Andrighetto, with 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 15 games in an Avs sweater, has been a boost to the offense since joining the team on March 1, the line overall has found chemistry together. The trio has combined for six goals and seven assists in Colorado's last five games.
Best of the West
The Avalanche faces the Western Conference's top team in the Blackhawks on Tuesday. Chicago clinched the top spot in the Central Division and the Western Conference on Saturday when Minnesota lost to Nashville and is guaranteed home-ice advantage through the first three playoff rounds.
It's Chicago's 16th division championship in franchise history, and the club will be making its ninth straight postseason appearance, the second-longest active streak in the NHL (Pittsburgh: 11).
The Avalanche recalled forward Rocco Grimaldi and defenseman Duncan Siemens from the San Antonio Rampage on Monday, but with the team not practicing earlier in the day after returning from Minnesota, it's not yet known what the Avs' lineup might look like.
Grimaldi leads the Rampage with 51 points (29 goals, 22 assists) in 68 games this season, while Siemens has six points (two goals, four assists) in 69 contests. If Siemens suits up for the Avalanche on Tuesday, he'd play his second career NHL game and first since making his debut on April 11, 2015--also against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Players to Watch
Colorado: Right wing Mikko Rantanen
Rantanen scored his 18th goal of the season against Minnesota on Sunday to take over the team lead in goals. His 36 points rank third on the team and are tied for ninth among NHL rookies.
Chicago: Left wing Artemi Panarin
Panarin enters Tuesday's game on a four-game point streak and has logged five goals and one assist in that span. His four-game goal streak is a season high, and he's tied for the team lead in points against the Avalanche this season, totaling two goals and three assists in the four meetings between the two teams in 2016-17.
Tuesday's game between the Avalanche and the Blackhawks begins at 7 p.m. MT, and tickets are still available. The game can be watched live on Altitude 2, and the radio broadcast can be heard on FM 92.5 The Wolf or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.