Blackhawks-Avalanche Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 17, 2013
Earlier this month, the Colorado Avalanche ended the Chicago Blackhawks' historic season-opening run. While the Blackhawks have bounced back from a brief slide started by that setback, the Avalanche have failed to completely build on the victory from the last meeting. Trying for a third consecutive win, the Blackhawks look to avenge their first regulation loss of 2013 and end their recent road struggles to an Avalanche team hoping to avoid a season-high fourth straight defeat Monday night. "I'm sure (Colorado will) be ready," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "They played well against us both games (this season). Will do what we have to do to be aware of what they do. They're a good hockey team and I'm sure they are going to be anxious and excited." After rallying for two third-period goals in a 3-2 home win over Colorado on March 6, Chicago (23-2-3) ran out of gas two nights later in a 6-2 road loss to the Avalanche. Colorado (10-13-4) scored four times in the second period en route to ending the Blackhawks' NHL-record 24-game point streak to start the season and snap its own 0-2-1 stretch. Chicago followed with a 6-5 home loss to Edmonton last Sunday, but opened a four-game trip with a 2-1 shootout win at Columbus on Thursday and an 8-1 rout of Dallas on Saturday. "As long as we show up prepared and go out there and play the right way as a team we'll turn things in our favor," said Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, who has six goals and five assists in nine games. "The last couple of games, some good road games, we've done that so we want to keep that going." Toews and Marian Hossa each scored twice while Patrick Kane and defenseman Nick Leddy both had a goal with two assists Saturday for the Blackhawks, who improved to 12-1-2 on the road after their highest-scoring game in four seasons. "A great effort all-around by the team,'' said Kane, who has three goals and four assists in three games since being held without a point in both versus Colorado. "It was a game that we probably needed, since we've been in so many close games, to get some guys some confidence scoring some goals." Corey Crawford has stopped 47 of 49 shots in two games after yielding 11 goals in his previous three. Crawford is 13-2-3 with a 1.79 goals-against average, but has a 4.73 GAA during a three-game losing streak to the Avalanche. Hossa has four goals and two assists in his last five games but only one assist in his last three versus Colorado. Toews has scored in both against the Avalanche in 2013. Though the Blackhawks have played well on the road, they've dropped six of eight (2-4-2) at Colorado and been outscored 11-4 while losing the last two. The Avalanche followed the victory over Chicago with a 3-2 overtime win over San Jose last Sunday, but have yielded 15 goals in losing the next three. With a Western Conference-low 24 points, Colorado is running out of time to save its season. "We've got to figure it out here and start to work together,'' said forward Matt Duchene, who has five goals and six assists in six games. "It's not effort and it's not talent. We've got both of those. I think it's just concentration. Everyone is so scared to make mistakes.'' Duchene recorded four of his five points against the Blackhawks this season in the home victory. Semyon Varlamov has saved 60 of 65 shots in the two games versus Chicago, but yielded 10 goals in the last three overall.
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