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History on Avs' side in rivalry with Blackhawks

by John Kreiser

The Chicago Blackhawks reach the halfway point of their season Wednesday, and they have yet to lose a game in regulation. But none of their success has come at the expense of the Colorado Avalanche. The teams open a home-and-home series at United Center on this week's NBCSN's Wednesday Night Rivalry before heading to Denver for the rematch on Friday.

Chicago has gotten points in each of its last 29 games, passing the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens for sole possession of the second-longest streak in NHL history. However, they've struggled against Colorado -- the Avalanche went 3-1-0 against Chicago in each of the past two seasons and won both trips to the United Center last season.

Here's a statistical look at this week's Rivalry Night matchup:

Avs back on top: Colorado's success against the Blackhawks in the previous two seasons has moved the Avalanche ahead of Chicago in the all-time series between the franchises. The Avalanche, who entered the NHL as the Quebec Nordiques in 1979, have won 52 of the 108 meetings. Chicago has won 47, while nine ended in ties. Colorado has had a more substantial edge since moving to Denver in 1995 -- the Avs have won 36 of the 63 games played, lost 24 and tied three. The Blackhawks have struggled badly in the Mile High City, winning just nine times, losing 20 and tying twice.

Remember when?: There was much more of a fever pitch between the teams when they met in back-to-back years in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the 1990s. Colorado won both series in six games, but the Blackhawks made them work. The 1996 Western Conference Semifinal series between the teams featured four games that went past regulation -- Chicago won twice in a single overtime, while the Avs won 3-2 in triple overtime in Game 4 and closed the series with a 4-3 double-OT win in Game 6. Colorado and Chicago split the first four games in their first-round series in 1997 before the Avalanche rolled to 7-0 and 6-3 wins to eliminate Chicago.

10 and counting: From the time they entered the NHL in 1926 until Tuesday, the Blackhawks never had had a winning streak longer than nine games. They have one now after their 5-3 win against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, which was their 10th in a row, breaking the team record of nine set in December 2008. Chicago has outscored its opponents 31-16 during the streak.

They're No. 2: Chicago's win against Minnesota on Wednesday not only extended the Blackhawks' season-opening run of games with at least one point to 23, it also moved them into second place on the all-time list. Chicago has earned a point in its last 29 games; the Blackhawks finished last season going 3-0-3 before this season's 20-0-3 start. However, none of those games has come against Colorado. The Blackhawks passed the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens, who were unbeaten in regulation in 28 straight games. The only team still ahead of the Hawks is the 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers, who had a 25-0-10 streak on the way to finishing first in the regular season.

Stoppers: Both teams played Tuesday and may switch goaltenders for the second half of the back-to-back. That could be tougher for the Blackhawks -- Semyon Varlamov is 2-1-0 in his career against Chicago, with a 1.96 goals-against average and one shutout. Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who played in Tuesday's 2-1 loss at Detroit, is even better -- he's 15-6-3 lifetime against Chicago, with a 2.28 GAA and a shutout. Ray Emery, who watched as Corey Crawford beat Minnesota 5-3 on Tuesday, is 1-1-0 against Colorado but has a 4.83 GAA against the Avs. Crawford is 2-3-1 with a 2.63 GAA in six games against the Avalanche.

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