The Blackhawks face off against the Avalanche for the fourth and final this this season on Saturday at Pepsi Center. Colorado can sweep the season series with a victory.
Chicago (14-16-6) is coming off a 4-1 victory Thursday in Winnipeg. Patrick Kane collected four points in a game for the 12th time in his career and Robin Lehner had 36 saves.
During the second period against the Jets, Brandon Saad injured his right ankle and didn’t return. Jeremy Colliton noted Saad will be out for a ‘couple weeks’, which opens up the door for increased roles for Kirby Dach and wingers Dominik Kubalik and Alex Nylander.
Dylan Sikura is expected to re-join the lineup after being a healthy scratch for five straight games. He’ll join Kubalik on the tope line centered by Jonathan Toews:
Robin Lehner is tonight’s goaltender. Dylan Sikura draws back in for the injured Brandon Saad. #Blackhawks— Eric Lear (@BHTVeric) December 21, 2019
With Drake Caggiula and Andrew Shaw (concussion), Calvin de Haan (right shoulder) and now Saad on the shelf, the Blackhawks’ depth will be tested and their first assignment will be slowing down the Avalanche’s high-powered offense that has scored the most goals in the NHL.
The Avalanche are led by the speedy superstar Nathan MacKinnon, who is third in scoring in the NHL with 53 points. He’s dominated the Blackhawks this season with eight points in three games. If Chicago hopes to have any chance against Colorado (22-10-3), it starts with matching up Duncan Keith or Connor Murphy every chance they can against MacKinnon. MacKinnon is just that good and can change the outcome of a game with the snap of his wrists.
Philipp Grubauer is slated to start for the Avalanche. He’s 10-7-2 with a .915 save-percentage and a 3.36 goals saved above average this season.
Defenseman Cale Makar remains on the injured reserve with an upper-body injury. The Calder Trophy front runner has eight goals and 28 points — 12 on the power play — in 29 games. However, Chicago will still have to contend with the likes of Andre Burakovsky, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, who have combined for 30 goals and 61 points this season.
If the Blackhawks can pull off a victory in Denver, it would be their biggest victory of the season to date.
Tale of the Tape
47.7% (25th) — Corsi For — 49.5% (t-17th)
49.5% (21st) — Faceoffs — 47.7% (28th)
2.70 (t-22nd) — Goals per game — 3.50 (t-1st)
2.94 (t-18th) — Goals against per game — 2.60 (t-8th)
16.8% (23rd) — Power play — 18.6% (17th)
80.4% (15th) — Penalty kill — 79.6% (20th)
Kubalik — Toews — Sikura
Nylander — Strome — Kane
DeBrincat — Dach— Carpenter
Smith — Kampf— Highmore
Keith — Boqvist
Gustafsson — Murphy
Maatta — Gilbert
Landeskog — MacKinnon — Rantanen
Burakovsky — Kadri — Donskoi
Nieto — Bellemare — Calvert
Jost — Compher — Nichushkin
Graves — Girard
Zadorov — Cole
Lindholm — Johnson
How to watch
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver
TV: NBC Sports Chicago+
Live stream: ESPN+, NBC Sports app