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Avs Concluding Back-To-Back In Chicago

by Danielle Bernstein / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche plays the second half of a back-to-back set on Sunday evening, taking on the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. It's the fourth of five games between the Central Division rivals this season and the last one on the road for Colorado, as it'll host Chicago on April 4 for the final matchup.

The Avalanche is 1-2-0 against the division and conference-leading Blackhawks this season, the win coming in Chicago on Dec. 23. Colorado is 46-29-8 overall against Chicago, which includes a 22-17-3 mark on the road in the all-time series, and the Avs have been victorious in six of their last eight trips to the Windy City.

 

Last Time Out

Colorado is coming off a 5-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday afternoon. The Avalanche held a slight edge in shots, 24-23 over Detroit, but only Nathan MacKinnon found the back of the net, and the Wings were successful on two of their three power-play opportunities. 

Chicago was victorious over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday afternoon, winning 2-1 in overtime. The Blackhawks trailed 1-0 after the opening stanza, but John Hayden evened the score midway through the middle frame, and Ryan Hartman buried the game winner 4:43 into the extra period to give Chicago its fourth straight win.

 

Last Time They Met

These two teams last met on Jan. 17 at Pepsi Center, where the Blackhawks left with a 6-4 win. The Avalanche lead 4-3 after 40 minutes of play, but Chicago scored two early goals in the third and added an empty-net tally with 11 seconds left to account for the final score. The Avalanche was 1-for-2 on the power play, and Matt Duchene scored twice to pace Colorado. MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie each pitched in two assists. For the visiting Blackhawks, Vinnie Hinostroza scored two goals, both in the decisive third period, and Marian Hossa and Tanner Kero each had three-point nights. 

Video: Keefe and Rycroft preview Sunday's game

What to Watch

Back-to-Back

Sunday's game is the second half of a back-to-back set for both Chicago and Colorado. The Avalanche has been more successful in the second game of a two-in-two, where it has a 4-5-0 record. This is the 10th of 11 back-to-backs for the Avs this season, with the final one coming on April 8-9 to wrap up the 2016-17 campaign.

The Blackhawks have a 9-3-1 record in the second game of a back-to-back set this season.

Facing a Hot Team at Home

The Blackhawks are one of the hottest teams in the league entering Sunday's contest, having gone 8-2-0 over their last 10 outings, the second-best record in the league over that span. Chicago has also been one of the NHL's best home teams over the course of the 2016-17 campaign, with 50 of their 97 points being earned at the United Center, where they've posted a 23-9-4 record. 

 

Player to Watch

Colorado: Center Nathan MacKinnon

MacKinnon's four points (one goal, three assists) is tied with Barrie for the team lead in points against Chicago this season. Following his 15th goal and team-leading 45th point of the season against the Red Wings on Saturday, MacKinnon is now two points shy of his 200th in the NHL.  

Chicago: Left wing Artemi Panarin

Panarin has notched three points (one goal, two assists) in three contests against the Avalanche this season, all of which have come on home ice. He enters Sunday's game in the midst of a five-game point streak (three goals, three assists) after recording the primary helper on Hartman's game-winning tally Saturday and has points in 10 of his last 11 contests.

 

The Details

Sunday's game between the Avalanche and Blackhawks begins at 5 p.m. MT and can be seen live on Altitude TV. Avs fans can convene at Bout Time North (5225 W. 80th Ave.) for the final Avalanche Watch Party, presented by Bud Light. Bud Light specials and Avalanche prizes will be raffled off by Bernie the mascot and the Ram Trucks Avalanche Ice Girls.

Fans wanting to hear the radio broadcast can tune into Altitude Sports Radio AM950 or listen online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.

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