The Colorado Avalanche hits the road for a quick, one-game trip at the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. It is the first of a back-to-back, home-and-home set between the clubs, and it opens the four-game season series for the Avs and Blackhawks.
The Avs went 1-1-0 on a two-game homestand as it fell 5-3 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday but claimed a 4-1 victory against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday after scoring three goals in 2:32 in the third period.
The Blackhawks shutout the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Tuesday in Chicago after falling 2-1 in a shootout to the Stars on Saturday. Chicago has won five of its last eight games and only lost at home twice during that stretch.
After Saturday's game in Denver, the clubs will meet on Dec. 18 and 21 with the season-series concluding at Pepsi Center.
Avalanche vs. Chicago Blackhawks
United Center | Chicago, Ill.
Avs left wing J.T. Compher is from the Chicago suburb of Northbrook, Illinois…Colorado center T.J. Tynan was born in nearby Orland Park, Illinois…Chicago assistant coach Marc Crawford was the head coach of the Avalanche/Nordiques from 1994-95 to 1997-98 and won a Stanley Cup with Colorado in 1996.
The Avs own a 68-54-17 all-time record against the Blackhawks and a 24-18-5 record as the visiting team since 1995. Colorado finished with a 2-1-2 mark against Chicago last season and 1-0-1 on the road. J.T. Compher led the Avs with four goals and five points (tied) in five outings against the Blackhawks in 2018-19. Philipp Grubauer was the starting goaltender for the Avs in three of the five contests last season and recorded a 1.99 goals-against average and .941 save percentage.
The Avs recalled forwards Sheldon Dries and A.J. Greer from the Colorado Eagles on Thursday. After practice, head coach Jared Bednar said that Andre Burakovsky will not travel with the team to Chicago for the outing.
Andre Burakovsky is day-to-day with an upper-body injury while Erik Johnson is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Neither player is on the trip to Chicago… Mikko Rantanen has been practicing with the team this week in a full-contact jersey and will likely return to the lineup soon after missing 15 games with a lower-body injury… Gabriel Landeskog (lower body) and Matt Calvert (head) skated before the team's practice on Thursday in red, non-contact jerseys… Colin Wilson remains out with a lower-body injury.
SCOUTING THE BLACKHAWKS
Chicago has a 10-9-5 record so far this season and has earned a 7-5-2 mark as the home team. The Blackhawks are third in the NHL for hits (420) and fifth in takeaways (135) at home. Chicago goaltender Robin Lehner has a .938 save percentage over the 13 games he has played (12 started) this season, putting him in a tie for the best save percentage in the league.
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: Patrick Kane
Patrick Kane has tallied 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists) this season to lead the Blackhawks and be tied for the eighth most in the league. He has recorded 1.29 goals per game, the 10th-most in the league, with the Avs' Nathan MacKinnon (fifth, 1.46) and Mikko Rantanen (ninth, 1.33) ahead of him. He notched a career-high 110 points (44 goals, 66 assists) last season and played in every game but one.
Kane recorded his 600th career assist on Nov. 21 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He has played in 927 NHL games since being drafted first overall by the Blackhawks in 2007. The right wing is in his 13th season with Chicago and has recorded 969 points (368 goals, 601 assists) since his NHL debut.
Logan O'Connor scored his first NHL goal in the win against Edmonton on Wednesday. The forward was recalled from the Colorado Eagles on Nov. 18 and has skated in four contests with the Avs since. O'Connor made his NHL debut last season, playing in five games with the Avalanche.
The matchup in Chicago will likely be Ryan Graves' 50th NHL game. Graves was the New York Rangers' fourth round pick (No. 110 overall) in the 2013 draft and was acquired by Colorado in a trade on Feb. 26, 2018. He played 26 games with the Avalanche last season and has tallied 12 points (five goals, seven assists) through 49 games in his career. He recorded a career-high three points (one goal, two assists) on Nov. 7 versus the Nashville Predators and added an assist on Wednesday against Edmonton.
Matt Nieto's goal against Edmonton on Wednesday was the 140th point of his career. Nieto has played in 426 games since his NHL debut with the San Jose Sharks during the 2013-14 season and has 59 goals and 81 assists.
Nathan MacKinnon has taken 120 shots this season, putting him in second place in the NHL… MacKinnon has also taken a league-leading 72 shots in November… Ryan Graves is plus-11 after 23 games, giving him the best rating on the Avs… Ian Cole's plus-9 rating on the road is tied for third in the league… The back-to-back series is the fourth of 12 for Colorado this season and the only home-and-home series for the club. The Avs are 2-1-0 in the first contest and 1-2-0 in the second.