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Blackhawks at Avalanche preview

Sikura to play on Chicago's top line; MacKinnon can extend point streak for Colorado

by Rick Sadowski / Independent Correspondent

BLACKHAWKS (14-16-6) at AVALANCHE (22-10-3)



The Game

Nathan MacKinnon will try to stretch his point streak to eight games when the Colorado Avalanche host the Chicago Blackhawks at Pepsi Center on Saturday.

The Avalanche forward has three point streaks of at least seven games this season and has at least one point in 16 of his past 17 games (27 points; 10 goals, 17 assists).

Colorado, 9-2-1 in its past 12 games, outscoring opponents 43-26, can sweep the four-game season series with Chicago. The Avalanche have won their first three games against the Blackhawks by a combined score of 16-6, including a 4-1 victory at United Center on Wednesday.

Chicago is 2-4-1 in its past seven games and 5-9-2 in its past 16.

Dylan Sikura will play right wing on the Blackhawks top line with left wing Dominik Kubalik and center Jonathan Toews, replacing Brandon Saad, who injured his right ankle in a 4-1 win at the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday and is expected to be out two weeks.

Sikura, a healthy scratch the past five games, has no points in two games since his Dec. 8 recall from Rockford of the American Hockey League.


Players to watch

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane has eight points (five goals, three assists) in his past four games. He needs two goals to tie Denis Savard (377) for fourth place in Chicago history.

Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen has six points (four goals, two assists) in his past five games and 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in 13 games against the Blackhawks.


They said it

"[The Avalanche] have a tremendous amount of speed everywhere. Their ability to go from the [defensive] zone to the offensive zone doesn't take any time at all. When the puck turns over, we've got to get home and get back with numbers; that'll give us a chance to defend." -- Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton

"We've had success against [the Blackhawks] in the past, so we just have to try and keep replicating what we've done and hopefully it continues to work." -- Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson  


Blackhawks projected lineup

Dominik Kubalik -- Jonathan Toews - Dylan Sikura

Alex Nylander -- Dylan Strome -- Patrick Kane

Alex DeBrincat -- Kirby Dach -- Ryan Carpenter

Zack Smith -- David Kampf -- Matthew Highmore

Duncan Keith - Adam Boqvist

Dennis Gilbert -- Erik Gustafsson

Olli Maatta - Connor Murphy

Robin Lehner

Corey Crawford

Scratched: Slater Koekkoek

Injured: Drake Caggiula (concussion protocol), Calvin de Haan (shoulder), Brandon Saad (ankle), Brent Seabrook (medical evaluation), Andrew Shaw (concussion protocol)


Avalanche projected lineup

Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen

Andre Burakovsky - Nazem Kadri -- Joonas Donskoi

Valeri Nichushkin -- Tyson Jost -- J.T. Compher

Matt Nieto -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- Matt Calvert  

Ryan Graves -- Samuel Girard

Nikita Zadorov -- Ian Cole

Anton Lindholm -- Erik Johnson

Philipp Grubauer

Pavel Francouz

Scratched: Mark Barberio, Vladislav Kamenev

Injured: Cale Makar (upper body), Colin Wilson (lower body)


Status report

Saad was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Thursday. ... Makar wore a non-contact jersey during the morning skate and could return at the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday. The defenseman, injured in a 4-1 win at the Boston Bruins on Dec. 7, has missed six games.


Stat pack

Toews has 47 points (21 goals, 26 assists) in 48 games against Colorado. … Landeskog has four points (two goals, two assists) in his past four games.

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