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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, December 27th (All times Eastern)
Colorado Avalanche (23-10-3) at Chicago Blackhawks (26-7-6), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Blackhawks and red-hot forward Patrick Kane look to pick up a point for the ninth time in their last 10 games on Friday night when the Central Division leaders play host to the Colorado Avalanche.
The Blackhawks' 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Monday gave them a 6-1-2 mark over their past nine games and 58 points on the season. Chicago is second in the overall Western Conference standings, a point back of the Anaheim Ducks.
Kane comes out of the holiday break having logged a point in 12 straight games. He has seven goals and 14 assists over that run and is second in the NHL with 49 points.
Kane extended his point streak with a goal on Monday, while Patrick Sharp scored twice. Bryan Bickell and Nick Leddy also had goals, with Leddy adding an assist to the win.
"Everybody's happy," 'Hawks forward Marian Hossa said of the team's morale heading into the holiday break. "The coaches will have a beautiful Christmas and the same with the players."
Antti Raanta needed just 10 saves to record the victory, improving to 8-1-2 on the season with a 2.20 goals against average and .916 save percentage. His sold play has helped Chicago overcome current injuries to goaltenders Corey Crawford and Nikolai Khabibulin.
Raanta has faced the Avalanche once before, making his NHL debut against them on Nov. 19 in a 5-1 loss at Colorado. He stopped 14-of-16 shots faced, taking over for Crawford after the latter gave up three goals on seven shots in the first period.
That contest was the first of five meetings this season between the Blackhawks and Avalanche, who got a goal from Paul Stastny and 36 saves by Semyon Varlamov.
Colorado has won five of the past seven encounters overall but has lost seven of its past 11 in Chicago.
The Avs aim to avoid a third straight setback tonight after dropping back-to- back road games in a shootout before the break. That includes a 5-4 loss to San Jose on Monday that saw Colorado score goals 12 seconds apart with under two minutes to go in regulation to go up a goal before the Sharks netted the tying tally with 19.6 seconds left on the clock.
The Sharks then scored twice in the shootout, while both Avalanche skaters were denied.
"We scored two big goals and took the lead 4-3 and they made a pretty play at the end to tie the game," Colorado head coach Patrick Roy said.
Erik Johnson and Jamie McGinn had the late third-period goals, while Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog also scored. Varlamov made 41 saves through overtime.
Ryan O'Reilly had two assists on Monday to give him two goals and six helpers over his last seven games, while Matt Duchene has logged a pair of goals and eight assists over a five-game point streak.
Varlamov is 4-3-0 with a 2.41 GAA in his career versus the Blackhawks.
Colorado begins a seven-game homestand on Sunday.
12/27 10:36:36 ET
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