Hawks aim for home-and-home split with Avalanche
Wednesday, 12.15.2010 / 6:30 PM
NHL.comAVALANCHE (16-10-4) at BLACKHAWKS (16-13-3)
TV -- ALT (HD), CSN-CH+ (HD)
Last 10 --
Colorado 4-3-3; Chicago 6-3-1
Season series --
This will be the second game of a home-and-home series between Colorado and Chicago and will be the third meeting this season. Colorado has won both contests so far with a 4-3 overtime victory on Oct. 7 at Pepsi Center and a 7-5 win on Monday night also on home ice.
Big Story --
Both squads will want to prove themselves after Monday's wild, back-and-forth contest which five times saw one team within a goal of the other until Colorado scored three goals in the final 2:24 to win by a pair. Also, the Western Conference is a log-jam with Colorado and Chicago mixed up in the middle -- four teams are tied for third place with 36 points each and three more teams are chasing with 35 points each.
Colorado is on the up-and-up in the West with its recent three-game win streak. The Avalanche are currently tied with Vancouver for the lead in the Northwest Division with 36 points. Despite missing their top two left-wingers and top-two right wingers due to injury, they have proven their resilience, defeating some of the top clubs in the League in Chicago, Washington and Atlanta. This streak, however, comes on the tail of a six-game skid, so the questions is whether Colorado will keep its strong play going in spite of missing several key players. In the wake of injuries, the team has seen unexpected production from guys like Greg Mauldin, who came up from the AHL, and has produced 6 points in his last eight games.
The late comeback against Chicago after blowing four one-goal leads was a nice turn of events for the Avalanche.
"It was quite a whirlwind in the last two minutes," said Matt Duchene, who scored the game-winner. "Once we got the tying goal, we had new life and we really took it to them. It's unbelievable how many goals we got tonight."
With Monday's loss in Colorado, the Blackhawks return home from a short, two-game road trip with no points to show for their efforts despite playing two very tight contests.
Chicago fell to the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in overtime on Saturday night before its contest in the Mile High City. Despite the two losses, Chicago is showing flashes of hope in players like Troy Brouwer
, who broke out on Monday night with 2 goals and 1 assist.
"We made a couple of mistakes," Brouwer said. "We didn't get the pucks out, didn't get the pucks in. We weren't tight enough in our 'D' zone. We gave then too much time down low and they made plays and they scored on every opportunity we gave them."
However, the Blackhawks certainly have no reason to despair -- the team has won three of its last five, despite losing star forwards Patrick Kane
and Marian Hossa
Who's Hot --
Brouwer boasts 4 points in three games and Bryan Bickell
has 4 points in as many games for the Blackhawks. ... Paul Stastny extended his point streak to five games and has 3 points in each of his last two contests for the Avalanche.
Injury Report --
Chicago will be without Kane (left ankle). … Colorado finally has some good news on the injury front as David Van Der Gulik was cleared to play, and TJ Galiardi was cleared to practice full contact. Milan Hejduk is day-to-day (groin). Still out are Chris Stewart (fractured hand), Kyle Quincey, (shoulder), Kyle Cumiskey (concussion) and Peter Mueller (concussion).
Stat Pack --
Colorado boasts the most goals scored with 106, two more than Philadelphia and 10 more than Detroit.
Puck Drop --
There is a possibility that Hossa will be available for Wednesday night's contest. He has missed the last six games with a lower-body injury. Hossa has recorded 6 goals and 3 assists in his last six meetings with the Avalanche.