The Colorado Avalanche have won six of their past seven games entering Tuesday night’s visit to the Chicago Blackhawks, benefiting from the successes of a number of top contributors.
Nathan MacKinnon has 17 points on a 10-game point streak, Mikko Rantanen has 14 points in a seven-game streak, and Nazem Kadri boasts 14 points in an eight-game streak.
MacKinnon and Rantanen both tallied three points for the Avalanche in Sunday’s 4-2 win against Anaheim, while goaltender Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves to help Colorado rally from a two-goal deficit.
“Loved the stick-to-itiveness of our group,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “We just kept at it and kept at it and dug our way out of a hole and eventually got the win.”
Colorado ended a 16-day layoff related to team-wide issues with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The team welcomed the return of blueliner Bowen Byram, who missed the previous eight games with a head injury, while Gabriel Landeskog notched the tying goal after missing three games due to a lower-body injury. Landeskog has tallied points in 11 straight contests for Colorado.
“I don’t think anyone felt amazing tonight,” MacKinnon said. “Physicality, lungs, legs, whatever; it was a grind for sure, but we got it done. It’s always nice to get into a rhythm here, so hopefully, we can finish with no more delays. Coming back from 2-0 is awesome. There was no panic on the bench. Guys stayed calm.”
Chicago fell to 0-2-2 in its past four games with Sunday’s 5-1 home loss to the Calgary Flames. The Blackhawks were coming off a 6-1 loss at Nashville on Saturday afternoon.
“I think obviously (Saturday) was not a good game,” Chicago’s Alex DeBrincat said. “(Sunday), I thought we played a little bit better, but still too many mistakes, leaving our goalie out to dry. That’s what’s going to happen when you play against a good team and give them chances like that.”
Rookie Arvid Soderblom has played the past five periods in goal for the Blackhawks after the Predators scored three goals on seven first-period shots against Collin Delia. Soderblom stopped 37 shots Sunday, including one on a Dillon Dube penalty shot.
Starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury might return Tuesday. Fleury cleared COVID-19 protocol Sunday and served as the team’s backup.
The Blackhawks surrendered a power-play goal and a short-handed goal in a second period that saw the Flames match a franchise single-period record with 26 shots.
“We need to be better,” the Blackhawks’ Henrik Borgstrom said. “Guys were feeling pretty good in practice and (a) couple of guys coming back from different injuries. But yeah, we need to be better than this.”
Colorado topped visiting Chicago 4-2 in the teams’ season opener on Oct. 13. Byram, Kadri and Landeskog each registered a goal and an assist, while Kuemper made 32 saves on 34 shots to outduel Fleury, who stopped 32 of 36 shots in his Blackhawks debut.
The Avalanche are set to host the Blackhawks on Jan. 24 before the clubs conclude the regular-season series in Chicago four days later.
–Field Level Media