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Avs Begin Back-to-Back at Home against Blackhawks

First of five matchups this season between the Central Division foes

by Dan Vatch / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche (19-10-6) wraps up a four-game homestand with a clash against the Central Division rival Chicago Blackhawks (12-19-6) at 7 p.m. MT at Pepsi Center. The contest is the first of five meetings between the clubs during the regular season, with the next matchup coming Dec. 29 at Pepsi Center.

Since moving to Denver, the Avs own a 50-30-9 all-time mark against the Blackhawks. Colorado went 3-1-0 against Chicago in the 2017-18 campaign, scoring an average of 4.25 goals per game in the season series.

Defensemen Tyson Barrie (seven goals, 17 assists) and Erik Johnson (five goals, 19 assists) lead the Avalanche with 24 points in their careers against the Blackhawks.  

Last Time Out

The Avalanche downed the Montreal Canadiens by a score of 2-1 on Wednesday, the third effort in the club's last four games earning at least a point. Brendan Gallagher put the Canadiens on the board first with a power-play tally in the opening period, but Colorado answered with goals from Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog to take home the victory. Rantanen also picked up an assist to give him two points in his 200th career NHL game while Nathan MacKinnon notched two helpers for his 18th multi-point effort of the year. Avalanche netminder Philipp Grubauer earned the game's First Star honors making 35 saves to push his record to 8-2-3 in his first season with Colorado.

The Blackhawks defeated the Dallas Stars 5-2 on Thursday to open their back-to-back set. Patrick Kane (two goals, one assist) and Alex DeBrincat (one goal, two assists) led Chicago with three points in the win while forward David Kampf recorded two assists. Goaltender Cam Ward was in net for the Hawks and made 26 saves in the victory.

Last Time They Met

The Avs shutout the Blackhawks 5-0 on March 30, 2018 led by Sven Andrighetto's two-goal effort. Tyson Barrie added a marker and two helpers and Mikko Rantanen notched a goal and an assist in the win. Tyson Jost also reached the back of the net for the Avs while Alexander Kerfoot, Nathan MacKinnon, Samuel Girard and Gabriel Landeskog contributed one assist each. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov stopped all 30 shots he faced but was injured late in the third period and Jonathan Bernier made three stops in the final 6:25 to secure the shutout for the Avs.

What To Watch

Barrie Close to History

Tyson Barrie paces Colorado defenders with 24 points (four goals, 20 assists) on the year. With an assist on Monday against the Islanders, he tied John-Michael Liles for the most helpers by a blueliner in franchise history with 207. The Victoria, British Columbia, native is just three points away from Liles' scoring record of 275 points.

Streaking Avs vs. Hawks

Coming into Friday's matchup, Barrie and Nathan MacKinnon have both reached the scoresheet in their last four games versus the Blackhawks. Barrie has tallied two goals and five assists while MacKinnon has registered three markers and four helpers in that span. The club's record against the Hawks over those four games is 3-0-1.

Players To Watch

Colorado: Left Wing Matt Calvert

Calvert tallied in back-to-back games, reaching the twine on Dec. 14 against the St. Louis Blues and Dec. 15 versus the Dallas Stars. The first-year Av now has 11 points (five goals, six assists) this year. Calvert has reached his career-best 24 points three times, most recently last season as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Chicago: Center Jonathan Toews

The Blackhawks captain ranks second on the team with 31 points (16 goals, 15 assists) in 37 outings this year. In his last five efforts, Toews has notched seven points (three goals, four assists) including back-to-back three-point games on Dec. 12 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Dec. 14 versus the Winnipeg Jets. The Winnipeg, Manitoba, native leads all-time Chicago skaters with 41 points (20 goals, 21 assists) in 40 skates against Colorado.

The Details

Friday's Division Rival Night between the Avalanche and Blackhawks is scheduled for 7 p.m. MT. The game can be watched live locally on Altitude TV or streamed on select devices with the Altitude Now app (in market) or NHL.tv (out of market). The radio broadcast can be heard on Altitude Sports Radio FM 92.5 in the Denver area or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.

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