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Avalanche at Blackhawks preview

Colorado 8-1-1 in past 10; Keith returns to lineup for Chicago

by Brandon Cain / Independent Correspondent

AVALANCHE (21-9-3) at BLACKHAWKS (13-15-6)

8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TVAS


The Game

Duncan Keith will return to the lineup for the Chicago Blackhawks when they host the Colorado Avalanche at United Center on Wednesday.

The defenseman had missed the past nine games because of a groin injury. He has six points (one goal, five assists) in 25 games this season for Chicago, which ended a four-game winless streak (0-3-1) with a 5-3 win against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. He needs one goal for 100 in his career.

The Avalanche are 8-1-1 in their past 10 games, outscoring opponents 38-22 in that stretch. 

Pavel Francouz, who is 4-0-1 with a .944 save percentage and 1.90 goals-against average in his past five games, starts for the Avalanche. 


Players to watch

Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon has seven points (two goals, five assists) during his five-game point streak. He has seven points (two goals, five assists) in two games against Chicago this season. 

Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews has nine points (two goals, seven assists) in his past five games.


They said it

"He's elevated his game and [he's been] more consistent over the last couple of years, so he's getting himself into the scoring areas more. He's really well aware of his surroundings and when he has open men he can use and when his shot is his best opportunity. I think you're going to see his numbers continue to go up." -- Avalanche coach Jared Bednar on Nathan MacKinnon

"I feel good energy-wise, I feel strong, ready to do whatever the team needs me to do." -- Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith on his return


Avalanche projected lineup

Andre Burakovsky -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Joonas Donskoi

Gabriel Landeskog -- Nazem Kadri -- Mikko Rantanen

Valeri Nichushkin -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- Matt Calvert

Matt Nieto -- Tyson Jost -- J.T. Compher

Nikita Zadorov -- Samuel Girard

Ryan Graves -- Ian Cole

Anton Lindholm -- Mark Barberio

Pavel Francouz

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Vladislav Kamenev, Calle Rosen

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


Blackhawks projected lineup

Dominik Kubalik -- Jonathan Toews -- Brandon Saad

Alex Nylander -- Dylan Strome -- Patrick Kane

Alex DeBrincat -- Kirby Dach -- Ryan Carpenter

Zack Smith -- David Kampf -- Matthew Highmore

Duncan Keith -- Connor Murphy

Dennis Gilbert -- Erik Gustafsson

Olli Maatta -- Adam Boqvist

Corey Crawford

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Slater Koekkoek, Brent Seabrook, Dylan Sikura

Injured: Drake Caggiula (concussion protocol), Calvin de Haan (right shoulder), Andrew Shaw (concussion protocol)


Status report

Smith will play for Chicago despite missing the morning skate Wednesday with flu-like symptoms. … Keith will go in for Seabrook, who will be a healthy scratch for the third time this season. … Lindholm will go in for Rosen. … Johnson could return for the Avalanche lineup against the Carolina Hurricanes at home on Thursday, Bednar said.


Stat pack

Colorado is 3-0-2 in its past five games in Chicago. … Rantanen has six points (two goals, four assists) in his past three games against the Blackhawks. … Kane has four goals in his past two games, including a hat trick.

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