The Colorado Avalanche travels to Chicago on Wednesday for the third of four meetings this season with the Blackhawks.
The Avs won the first two outings in a home-and-home set on Nov. 29-30 by scores of 5-2 and 7-3. Nathan MacKinnon racked up seven combined points (two goals, five assists) in the two games.
Colorado fell 5-2 on Monday to the St. Louis Blues, ending its season-long, nine-game point streak (8-0-1). Nazem Kadri and Mikko Rantanen scored the goals for the Avalanche, and goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 30 saves
The Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 5-3 in their last game on Sunday to snap a four-game skid. Patrick Kane recorded a hat trick, and Jonathan Toews earned three assists on the night.
Avalanche at Chicago Blackhawks
United Center | Chicago, Ill.
Avs left wing J.T. Compher is from the Chicago suburb of Northbrook, Illinois… Blackhawks assistant coach Marc Crawford was the head coach of the Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques from 1994-95 to 1997-98 and won a Stanley Cup with Colorado in 1996.
Colorado won the first two meetings this season against the Blackhawks--5-2 in Chicago on Nov. 29 and then 7-3 in Denver on Nov. 30--to extend the Avs lead to 6-1-3 in the last 10 contests of the series. The Avalanche is 4-0-2 in the last six games against the Hawks. Nathan MacKinnon notched seven points (two goals, five assists) over the two games in November, giving him 28 career points (10 goals, 18 assists) against Chicago, tied for the most he has against any opponent.
The Avalanche is 54-31-11 against the Blackhawks since moving to Colorado in 1995 and is 70-54-17 all-time in franchise history versus the Original Six club. The teams met in the playoffs in 1996 and 1997, and the Avs closed out both series in six games.
Philipp Grubauer got the start in net on Monday for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury on Dec. 7 at the Boston Bruins… Vladislav Kamenev and Anton Lindholm were the healthy scratches for the game in St. Louis… Colorado did not practice on Tuesday.
Defensemen Erik Johnson (lower body) and Cale Makar (upper body) are not on the team's road trip and continue to rehab their respective injuries in Denver… Colin Wilson (lower body) is out indefinitely after having surgery.
SCOUTING THE BLACKHAWKS
Chicago (13-15-6) is in seventh place in the Central Division but the team is 3-4-1 since the start of December. In that span, the Blackhawks power play has converted 27.3 percent of their chances, better than their overall season rate of 16.7. Their penalty kill is at 79.6 percent this season.
Patrick Kane leads the team with 40 points (18 goals, 22 assists), while Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat both have 24, chipping in with seven and eight goals, respectively.
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: Dylan Strome
With 23 points (seven goals, 16 assists), Dylan Strome is quietly having another solid year in what is on pace to be his first full NHL season. He's on a three-game point streak (one goal, two assists), with six points (two goals, four assists) in his last seven contests.
Strome did not skate in the home-and-home set against the Avalanche in late November, but he figures to play a big role in the third meeting given that he's skated at least 18 minutes in every game this month.
Joonas Donskoi has scored on 21.7 percent of his shots, the third-best shooting percentage in the NHL among players with at least 10 goals.
The Avalanche has scored 28 more goals than its allowed, tied for the best goal differential in the NHL (Boston, 28).
With an assist on Mikko Rantanen's goal on Monday, Nathan MacKinnon earned his 51st point of the season. He ranks tied for third in the league in scoring.
After Wednesday, the Avs play the Blackhawks for the final time on Saturday in Denver, completing their first division series of the season... Mikko Rantanen is on a three-game point streak (three goals, one assist). Since returning from a lower-body injury on Nov. 30 against Chicago, he has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in eight games… Nathan MacKinnon has spent the least amount of time in the penalty box (six minutes) among the league's top 10 point producers.