BLACKHAWKS (21-13-4) at AVALANCHE (18-17-2)
DENVER -- Jarome Iginla is excited about the prospect of eventually scoring his 600th NHL goal, but he's more concerned about trying to help the Colorado Avalanche defeat the Chicago Blackhawks at Pepsi Center on Thursday.
"It'll be a great atmosphere in the building, a fun night," said Iginla, who scored No. 599 in his previous home game, Sunday against the Arizona Coyotes. "Hopefully [the goal] happens sooner or later, but I just want to play good and help the team. I'd rather do it at home. The family will be here, my mom's here. It'd be cool. The guys have been great, they've been joking with me.
"Honestly, the focus is where it should be, trying to get back [into the Stanley Cup Playoffs], catching teams."
The Avalanche are five points behind the Nashville Predators for the second wild card in the Western Conference. They're 6-1-1 in their past eight games and 9-3-1 in December.
Iginla will become the 19th player in NHL history to reach the milestone. He has 10 goals and 10 assists in 37 games this season, with two goals and two assists in a four-game scoring streak after going nine games without a point.
Nathan MacKinnon is centering a line with Iginla and Alex Tanguay, and he'd be honored to play a part in Iginla's 600th goal.
"We're linemates right now, so hopefully I can be a part of it, selfishly," MacKinnon said. "It's pretty special. Six-hundred goals is no joke, it's an unbelievable career. I'm sure it's on his mind and he just wants to get it over with. It'll be pretty cool when it happens."
The Avalanche defeated the Blackhawks 3-0 at the United Center on Dec. 15 when goalie Semyon Varlamov had 29 saves and they ended Patrick Kane's scoring streak at 26 games.
"I'm sure he remembers that and wants to get a little retribution," Avalanche center John Mitchell said. "When he scores points, they win. A definite key to our game is to keep him off the scoreboard."
The Blackhawks have a 21-8-4 record when Kane gets a point and are 0-5-0 when he doesn't.
"We didn't talk too much about Kane that night," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "The key now is to focus; it's New Year's Eve and there's a lot of distractions. We want to have the right mindset coming into this game. This is a very good hockey club, they have a lot of talent, great depth. We're going to have to be sharp against these guys right from the start."
Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie was a late scratch due to flu-like symptoms. Defenseman Nate Guenin, who was to be a healthy scratch, will take his place in the lineup.
The Blackhawks will complete a two-game road trip Thursday. They defeated the Coyotes 7-5 on Tuesday, getting two goals from Andrew Desjardins and multipoint games from four others.
Chicago didn't have a morning skate Thursday.
Here are the projected lineups:
Andrew Shaw - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa
Artemi Panarin - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane
Andrew Desjardins - Phillip Danault - Teuvo Teravainen
Bryan Bickell - Dennis Rasmussen - Ryan Garbutt
Duncan Keith - Trevor Van Riemsdyk
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Brent Seabrook
Michal Rozsival - Erik Gustafsson
Injured: Marcus Kruger (wrist)
Scratched: Brandon Mashinter, Rob Scuderi
Alex Tanguay - Nathan MacKinnon - Jarome Iginla
Andreas Martinsen - John Mitchell - Matt Duchene
Gabriel Landeskog - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau
Cody McLeod - Mikhail Grigorenko - Jack Skille
Francois Beauchemin - Erik Johnson
Nick Holden - Nate Guenin
Brandon Gormley - Zach Redmond
Injured: Tyson Barrie (illness), Reto Berra (ankle), Ben Street (chest), Brad Stuart (back), Jesse Winchester (head)
Scratched: Chris Wagner
Status report: Crawford is expected to make his 10th consecutive start for the Blackhawks.
Who's hot: Seabrook has one goal and two assists in a two-game scoring streak. … Toews has one goal and one assist in a two-game streak. … Iginla has two goals and two assists in a four-game streak. … Mitchell has one goal and three assists in a four-game streak. … MacKinnon has three goals and one assist in a two-game streak.