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Blackhawks Travel To Colorado, Take On The Avalanche

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Bryan Bickell

Bryan Bickell (Photo Credit: Getty Images, By: Marc Piscotty)

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The Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche are dealing with injuries to key players while attempting to keep pace in the Western Conference.

Each team’s lineup may change during their two-game mini-series.

The Blackhawks visit Colorado in the first game of a home-and-home set Monday night before the two square off Wednesday in Chicago.

The Blackhawks are 3-1-1 since Marian Hossa went down with a lower-body injury in practice Nov. 29, and they’ve split a pair of games while Patrick Kane has been shelved with an injured ankle.

While Kane is expected to miss at least the rest of this week, the Blackhawks are hoping Hossa can return by Wednesday’s matchup.

Rookie goaltender Corey Crawford has helped Chicago (16-12-3) stay on track, winning seven straight starts from Nov. 14-Dec. 8 before losing 2-1 in overtime to San Jose on Saturday night.

Crawford, who made 28 saves against the Sharks, is likely to get the start Monday ahead of Marty Turco, and coach Joel Quenneville said Crawford has been a big reason why the Blackhawks are 5-1-1 in their last seven.

“You can argue that might have been his best game,” Quenneville said after the loss to the Sharks. “He’s the reason we got a point. You can say two, three saves looked like empty-netters and he came out of nowhere. He was sharp, quick and big.”

Because of injuries, Chicago has been forced to dress defenseman John Scott at forward to take up minutes on the fourth line. Fellow defenseman Jordan Hendry, who had been a healthy scratch for the previous 13 games, joined Scott on the fourth line and recorded his first goal of the season Saturday.

“It would have been a lot better with a victory, but of course you’ll take a goal whenever you can get it,” Hendry said. “It’s been a while since I played, and I just wanted to get out there and create some speed and energy for the fourth line there.””

While Quenneville tends to mix lines from game to game, Colorado coach Joe Sacco may have to work around the health of leading scorer Milan Hejduk, who injured his groin Friday against Atlanta.

Hejduk sat out Saturday’s 3-2 win at Washington, and his status for Monday is uncertain. To make matters worse, Colorado defenseman Kyle Quincey injured his shoulder Saturday and may have to sit out against Chicago.

Paul Stastny helped make up for the absences against the Capitals by netting a goal and two assists for the Avalanche (15-10-4), who finished a five-game trip at 2-1-2. Rookie defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk added a goal and an assist, giving him 16 points in 18 games.

“When you’re losing guys and you have different guys all the time, you have to play as a team,”” Stastny said.

Craig Anderson, a suburban-Chicago native who was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2001, made 40 saves for his second straight victory. He’s 2-0-2 with a 2.55 goals-against average against the Blackhawks, including a 4-3 overtime win Oct. 7 in the season opener.

“There’s no excuses. For us, we’ve got to find a way to win,” Anderson said. “(The injuries give) other guys some opportunities to step up.””

Four of the last five games between the teams have gone to overtime or a shootout, with the Blackhawks going 3-0-2 in that stretch.

Copyright 2010 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. STATS LLC and The Associated Press contributed to this article. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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