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Morning Skate Report: March 18

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche will welcome a familiar opponent tonight at Pepsi Center, as they’ll play the Chicago Blackhawks for the third time 13 days.

Colorado is 1-1 against Chicago this season after the teams played a home-and-home series on March 6-8. In the last meeting on March 8 at Pepsi Center, the Avalanche won 6-2 and ended the Blackhawks’ record streak of 24-straight games with a point to start the season.

With tonight’s game being the final game of the regular season between the clubs, the Avs know that the Blackhawks will be looking for some revenge when puck drops at 7:05 p.m. MDT.

“Those guys are going to want to come into this building and take that back (a win),” Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said after this morning’s skate. “It will probably be a pretty good game.”

The Avalanche has matched up well with the Blackhawks in the two previous games this season. Despite losing the first meeting on March 6, Colorado held a 2-1 lead in the third period before Chicago scored twice, including in the final minute of regulation, to pull out the win.

Head coach Joe Sacco said he expects a similar type of game tonight as there was during first two contests.

“We seem to have very good games against the Blackhawks,” Sacco said. “They are very entertaining games, they are always fast paced, good skating games, and I wouldn’t expect anything different tonight.”

Chicago is coming in as winners of two straight while Colorado will be looking to end a three-game losing streak.

Landeskog said a big key for his team to break that streak tonight would be to get off to a good start.

“We’ve lacked execution in the first period so far this year and we have to change that tonight,” He said. “[The Blackhawks] are too good of a team to play catch-up hockey against.”

Avalanche Spotlight On: Gabriel Landeskog

Gabriel Landeskog
Left Wing - COL
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 9
SOG: 55 | +/-: 1
After missing 11 games because of head and leg injuries earlier this year, Gabriel Landeskog appears to be back to his old self.

He has points in three of the last four games, which includes him scoring goals in each of the last two.

His goal on Saturday against Minnesota came midway in the second period, cutting the Wild’s lead at the time to one-goal, 4-3.

Tonight’s game will mark the 99th of Landeskog’s career. Except for the 11 games this season in which he was injured, he has played in every contest the last two seasons, including all 82 as a rookie last year.

More Morning Notes

- The Avalanche held an optional skate this morning after a fairly hard practice on Sunday. About half the team participated in the skate while the other half were at the arena doing off-ice workouts.

- Milan Hejduk will be back in the lineup after missing Colorado’s last game. He practiced on a forward line with Paul Stastny and John Mitchell on Sunday. Hejduk's next goal will tie him with Butch Goring and Trevor Linden (375) for 104th place on the NHL's all-time goal-scoring list.

- Other than Hejduk being in, Joe Sacco didn’t mention any other major lineup changes at his pre-game news conference.

- Ryan Wilson will miss his second straight game with an ankle injury.

- Semyon Varlamov will be the starting goaltender for the Avalanche tonight. He played the final two periods in relief of Jean-Sebastien Giguere on Saturday against Minnesota.

- PA Parenteau has 13 points (4g/9a) in his last nine games, which included a career-high six-game point streak.

- Matt Duchene has 10 points (4g/6a) in his last five games and 11 points (5g/6a) in his last six contests.

- Ryan O’Reilly has six points (2g/4a) in his last six games after going scoreless in his first two contests this year.

- Chuck Kobasew needs one assist to reach 100 career assists.

- Colorado will close out its current three-game homestand on Wednesday against Dallas – the start a home-and-home series against the Stars.

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