The Colorado Avalanche wraps up a four-game homestand on Tuesday night, hosting the Chicago Blackhawks at Pepsi Center. It's the third meeting of the season between the two teams, but the first one to be played in the Mile High City.
The Avs are 1-1-0 against the Blackhawks so far this season, falling 4-0 in the first contest on Nov. 3 and then taking a 2-1 overtime win on Dec. 23. The division rivals will meet on March 19 in Chicago and on April 4 in Denver.
Last Time Out
The Avs took a 2-0 lead in the second period but ultimately fell 3-2 to the Nashville Predators on Saturday afternoon at Pepsi Center. Gabriel Landeskog and Francois Beauchemin were the goal scorers for the Avalanche, and newcomer Matt Nieto notched his first point in an Avalanche uniform, picking up the secondary assist on Landeskog's first-period marker.
The Blackhawks tangled with the Wild on Sunday night in a battle of the Central Division's top two teams. Chicago scored the first two goals of the game, both off the stick of Patrick Kane, but the Wild roared back, scoring three unanswered to take a 3-2 win.
Video: Altitude looks at Colorado's matchup vs. Chicago
Last Time They Met
The Blackhawks took a 1-0 lead in the middle frame in the clubs' Dec. 23 meeting, but Mikko Rantanen tied it up early in the third to force overtime. Just 25 seconds into the extra session, Nathan MacKinnon potted his first career regular-season overtime goal to lift Colorado to the win. MacKinnon finished with a goal and an assist on the night, while defenseman Tyson Barrie picked up two assists. Calvin Pickard stopped 38-of-39 shots he faced.
Chicago's lone goal came on the power play; the Blackhawks finished 1-for-4 with the man advantage.
What to Watch
Offensive consistency has been a challenge for the Avalanche through the first half of the 2016-17 campaign, which is evident in the first two games of the series with Chicago. Colorado was shutout in the first contest but scored twice in the second to take the win.
Head coach Jared Bednar has emphasized the need to get more pucks to the net, something team captain Gabriel Landeskog believes there's been improvement on as the Avs enter the season's second half.
"I feel like offensively, we see progress. I think we look at our shots on net, and we're creating more scoring chances and we have that shot mentality, which is something that we need," Landeskog said. "The first half of the season, we weren't shooting nearly enough as we are right now. So the offensive game is there. We're getting up out of our zone a lot better and our breakouts are a lot cleaner. Things like that, that we have to keep building on and eventually I think the results are going to come."
Chicago Penalty Kill
The Blackhawks penalty kill ranks 28th in the NHL with a 75.6 success rate, but since Dec. 1, it's come up successful on 84.1 percent of its kills, which ranks seventh in the league over that time frame.
Player to Watch
Colorado: Left wing Gabriel Landeskog
Six of Landeskog's eight tallies this season have come on home ice, including two during the Avs' current four-game homestand. The Avalanche captain is also tied for 16th in the league in takeaways (34) this season, despite having played 9-16 fewer games than anyone ranked above him.
Chicago: Right wing Patrick Kane
Kane carries a five-game point streak (four goals, four assists) into Tuesday night's contest. He ranks fourth in the league with 47 points, second with 33 assists and is the Blackhawks' leading scorer (tied with Jonathan Toews) against Colorado with 32 points in 34 career games in the series.
Semyon Varlamov is slated to get the start in goal for Colorado. Varlamov is 11-5-1 all-time against the Blackhawks.
Bednar was uncertain of any lineup changes for the contest against Chicago on Monday afternoon. He noted those decisions would be made following further discussion amongst the coaching staff after they evaluate the hour-long practice session at Family Sports Center.
Tickets are still available for Tuesday night's game between the Avs and Hawks, which starts at 7 p.m. MT. The game can be seen live on NBCSN and heard on Altitude Sports Radio AM950 and online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.