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Avs Look To Continue Recent Success

Five Avalanche players have a point in at least the last three games

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Coming off of a successful homestand, the Colorado Avalanche looks to continue its effective play at the Chicago Blackhawks tonight.

The Avs earned a 3-0-1 record in their last four games at Pepsi Center and outscored their opponents 18-8 in the stretch.

"A lot of encouraging things from our homestand," said Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar. "No. 1, seven out of the eight points is crucial to us this time of year, taking care of our home-ice advantage. No. 2, I just liked the way we played. We had four lines going on all those nights, we fought back from behind, we played with the lead, we were to our game early in those games at home, and we stuck with it throughout the night and we got the results that we wanted because of it.

"Good all-around team games, not letting the other team dictate how the game is going to be played. There's a lot of really good things. We did a lot of good things, we scored some goals so hopefully we can take that now to the road."

After the four-consecutive games in the Mile High City, Colorado has five different skaters who have a point streak of at least three games. Defenseman Tyson Barrie has five points (two goals, three assists) in his three-game streak and has registered 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in his last seven contests.

Nathan MacKinnon, the NHL's first star for last week, leads the charge with 12 points (six goals, six assists) during a five-game span and Mikko Rantanen is right behind him with eight points (three goals, five assists) in his four-game streak.

On the Avs' third line, Matt Nieto has a goal in each of his last three games, the longest stretch of his NHL career, while Carl Soderberg has collected four points (one goal, three assists) in his three-game point streak.  

"We got seven out of eight points at home, so that's good and that's what we wanted," said Rantanen. "I think we can get momentum from that homestand, and I know we have to be better on the road and that's what we want to do."

Colorado is 12-16-4 as the visiting team this season and will look to start the game strong. The Avalanche has allowed the fewest first-period goals in the league with 38 and is 29-6-2 when the team scores first, which ranks fifth in the NHL.

"I think our mentality from the drop of the puck has to be let's get after the Chicago Blackhawks," said Bednar. "Whether that's at home or whether it's on the road, I think it's a winning recipe for our team. We have proven that time and again this year, so that's what we want to do.

"We got to get out, we got to get skating, we got to use our legs to our advantage and we got to be competing at a high, high level right from the drop of the puck."

COLORADO'S TOP LINE

The Nathan MacKinnon-centered line with wingers Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen was formed the last time these two clubs met, on Oct. 28 at Pepsi Center and had seven points (four goals, three assists) in that outing.

"[Playing with them] is a lot of fun. They are two great players to play with, and they are helping me a lot," said Rantanen. "I think everybody on the line is helping each other to play better. We like to talk on the bench on what we can do better. It's a lot of fun, I just have to enjoy it."

The Avs' top line has accounted for 170 points (69 goals, 101 assists) since it was formed and has benefited from being together for much of the season.

"When you play that long of period together, you kind of know where their favorite spot is and we like to switch too," said Mikko Rantanen, "Sometimes I am in front of the net, sometimes Landy is there and MacK goes there sometimes too. I think we have good chemistry and you kind of know where everybody is."

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