Blackhawks Battle Avalanche In United Center
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(WSCR) – The Chicago Blackhawks have showed flashes of the brilliant play that won them the Stanley Cup last season. After two wins in a row, the Blackhawks look to keep things going against Colorado.
The Colorado Avalanche may be the last team the Blackhawks want to face while trying to build on consecutive wins.
Colorado shoots for its first four-game season sweep of the Blackhawks in eight years Wednesday night when it visits Chicago.
Matt Duchene has played a key role in the Avalanche’s first three victories against the Blackhawks, having a hand in seven of the team’s 15 goals. His 18 total goals lead the team, and his 25 assists are tied for the team lead with John-Michael Liles.
Duchene, who turns 20 on Sunday, scored twice and tied a career high with three points Monday in Colorado’s 5-4 victory against Detroit. He scored twice in the Avalanche’s four-goal first period which chased Red Wings netminder and league wins leader Jimmy Howard and helped snap a two-game losing skid.
Duchene was named Tuesday as the lone All-Star representative for Colorado (22-15-6).
“I’m absolutely thrilled and honored,” Duchene told the team’s official website. “It’s something you dream about to hopefully play in the NHL All-Star Game one day. To be able to do that is a great honor and I’m very excited.”
Paul Stastny and Kevin Porter added goals for the Avalanche, who are among the highest-scoring teams with 140 goals. David Jones also tied his career high of three points with a goal and two assists.
A victory Wednesday would give Colorado consecutive victories for the first time since Dec. 17-19, and its first season sweep of Chicago since the 2002-03 season.
The Blackhawks will look to win their third straight and fourth in five games after beating the New York Islanders 5-0 on Sunday. Chicago (23-18-3) broke open the game in the second period on goals from Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, Dave Bolland and Niklas Hjalmarsson.
Kane and Patrick Sharp were named All-Stars on Tuesday, joining captain Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith, who were both voted in by the fans. Sharp has 25 goals, tying him for third in the NHL with Daniel Sedin.
Hossa’s goal was only his third in his last 22 games of an injury-plagued season.
“We haven’t played this type of game for a long time,” Hossa said. “We don’t have to worry about the score. We were dominating right from the beginning and I think we can build on this win.”
Prior to Sunday, the Blackhawks had allowed the first goal in four straight games.
Corey Crawford made 29 saves for his first shutout since March 5, 2008, and Chicago’s first shutout since Nov. 17 against Edmonton. Crawford is expected to be in net again Wednesday, though he’s 0-2-0 with a 3.71 goals-against average against the Avalanche this season.
Duchene had a goal and assisted on the game-winner in a 4-3 overtime victory Oct. 7 against the Blackhawks. He netted two goals and an assist in a 7-5 win Dec. 13, then assisted on two goals Dec. 15 in a 4-3 victory.
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