The Colorado Avalanche faces off against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night at home. It is the first of four meetings between the Central-Division rivals this season with the following three contests all scheduled to occur in the month of March.
The Avs are 47-30-8 all-time against the Blackhawks (since 1995-96) with 25 of those wins coming in the Mile High City. So far this campaign, Chicago has won two of five road games and Colorado has won three of four contests on home ice.
Last season, the Avalanche was 2-3-0 against the Blackhawks with both wins coming in overtime. Saturday night's matchup will be the latter half a back-to-back set for both clubs.
Last Time Out
The Avalanche was shutout 7-0 to the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday night, the teams first trip to Nevada during the regular-season. Semyon Varlamov was in goal for the entirety of the contest and faced 21 shots. Vegas had five man-advantage opportunities in the matchup but Colorado only allowed one power-play marker.
Chicago also played on Friday night and fell 2-1 to the Nashville Predators. Artem Anisimov netted an unassisted short-handed tally in the first, but the Predators answered with two goals in the second. Blackhawks netminder Corey Crawford faced 30 shots in the game.
Last Time They Met
The Avalanche overcame a three-goal deficit to defeat the Blackhawks 4-3 in overtime when the teams last met on April 4 at Pepsi Center. Chicago scored the first three goals of the contest, but Colorado answered with short-handed markers from Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene and a tally from Mikhail Grigorenko to force the extra frame. Defenseman Erik Johnson scored his 13th career game-winning goal as the Avs had a season-high 51 shots in the contest.
What to Watch
On Friday, forwards Gabriel Bourque and Alexander Kerfoot suffered injuries and were unable to finish the outing against the Golden Knights. Bourque was just called up on Sunday as a reinforcement for Colorado after the Avalanche experienced a couple of other injuries on Oct. 19 in its matchup against the St. Louis Blues. Before Friday's contest, the Avs injured list included J.T. Compher (broken thumb),Tyson Jost (lower body) and Colin Wilson (hip).
Colorado recalled forwards Andrew Agozzino and Rocco Grimaldi from the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL on Saturday morning.
The Avs penalty killing unit has allowed just four power-play goals in the last eight contests after giving up five in the first two games. Colorado killed a double-minor penalty in Friday's game against the Golden Knights and also on Tuesday in the team's 5-3 victory over the Dallas Stars. The Avalanche has only allowed one power-play goal at home this season after being shorthanded 11 times at Pepsi Center for a home penalty-kill percentage of 90.9.
Player to Watch
Colorado: Forward Matt Duchene
The 26-year-old center is tied for the team lead in scoring with eight points (three goals, five assists) so far this season. Throughout his career, Duchene has skated in 31 matchups against Chicago and has registered 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists). The last time the Avs faced the Blackhawks the forward found the back of the net and recorded two helpers for his third career three-point game against Chicago.
Chicago: Forward Jonathan Toews
The Chicago captain has registered 38 points (19 goals, 19 assists) in 37 games against the Avalanche in a Blackhawks sweater. The center started the season with a five-game point streak, finding the scoresheet six times in the first five games. On the campaign, he has eight points (three goals, five assists) after skating in 11 contests and is tied for the team lead with a plus-6 rating.
Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar did not say who will be in the crease for Colorado on Saturday, but given that Semyon Varlamov played the entire contest on Friday it is expected that Jonathan Bernier will be between the pipes against Chicago.
The game between the Avalanche and the Blackhawks is scheduled for 7 p.m. MT on Saturday and limited tickets are still available. The matchup will be televised on Altitude TV and the radio broadcast can be heard on Altitude Sports Radio AM 950 or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com