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Blackhawks’ Blake Hillman will likely make his NHL debut vs. Avalanche

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Chicago goaltender Collin Delia will make his second straight start in net.

NCAA Hockey: Frozen Four-Denver vs Minnesota-Duluth Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Defenseman Blake Hillman will likely make his NHL debut Friday, when the Chicago Blackhawks visit the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center in Denver.

Hillman, 22, signed a two-year entry-level contract earlier this week after his junior season with the University of Denver. The 2016 sixth-round pick had three goals and nine assists for the Pioneers in 41 games this past season. The 6-foot-1, 193 pounder had two shots in a block in two tournament games.

Collin Delia will make his second straight start in net Friday. Delia made stopped 25 of 27 shots in his NHL debut during Chicago’s 6-2 win over Winnipeg on Thursday at United Center. He left the game in the third period with cramps and was replaced by 36-year-old emergency backup goaltender Scott Foster, who made seven saves in his own NHL debut. After Thursday’s game, Chicago recalled Jean-Francois Berube from the AHL.

The San Jose Sharks, who are idle Friday, will also be cheering for Chicago against Colorado. The Sharks can clinch a playoff berth if the Los Angeles Kings and Hawks both win in regulation.

While Chicago is out of Stanley Cup playoff contention, Colorado is still fighting for a spot. The Avalanche are one point out of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference with five games remaining. It’ll be a tough task for Colorado to make the playoffs with three of its last five games against teams it’s chasing for a wild-card spot — Anaheim, Los Angeles and St. Louis.

Colorado is also dealing with some goalie issues. Top goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who had played in 21 straight games, missed Wednesday’s loss to the Philadelphia Flyers with an illness. Backup Jonathan Bernier was also out of action due to an infection in his left hand, so Andrew Hammond was recalled from the AHL to start against Philadelphia. Hammond gave up two goals in the first period before settling in for 31 saves in his Colorado debut.

Varlamov and Bernier will be available against Chicago. Both netminders returned to the ice Thursday, although second-year coach Jared Bednar hasn’t declared a starter.

Colorado is led by Hart Trophy candidate Nathan MacKinnon, who has 92 points (38 goals, 54 assists). MacKinnon’s 92 points rank fifth in the NHL and his assists are ninth.

Friday’s game will be the final contest between the two Central Division foes this season. The Hawks are 1-0-2 against Colorado in the season series.

Lineups

Blackhawks

Position Players
Position Players
F1 Brandon Saad - Nick Schmaltz - Patrick Kane
F2 Tomas Jurco - Artem Anisimov - Andreas Martinsen
F3 Alex DeBrincat - Victor Ejdsell - Dylan Sikura
F4 Patrick Sharp - David Kampf - Vinnie Hinostroza
D1 Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
D2 Erik Gustafsson - Connor Murphy
D3 Blake Hillman - Jordan Oesterle
Goaltender J-F Berube

Jets

Position Players
Position Players
F1 Kyle Connor - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler
F2 Nikolaj Ehlers - Paul Stastny - Patrik Laine
F3 Mathieu Perreault - Andrew Copp - Bryan Little
F4 Brandon Tanev - Adam Lowry - Joel Armia
D1 Josh Morrissey - Tyler Myers
D2 Joe Morrow - Dustin Byfuglien
D3 Ben Chiarot - Tucker Poolman
Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck

*Lines are subject to change.

How to watch Blackhawks at Avalanche

Start time: 8 p.m. CT

Location: Pepsi Center, Denver

TV: NBC Sports Chicago