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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, January 8th (All times eastern)

Chicago Blackhawks (22-8-7) at Colorado Avalanche (20-19-1), 9 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Chicago Blackhawks seek a third straight win tonight, when they visit the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.

Chicago has won back-to-back tests since getting swept in a home-and-home by the Detroit Red Wings, a series that included a setback in the 2009 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field. Those loses ended a franchise-record nine-game winning streak by Chicago.

The Blackhawks have rebounded in their last two games. After a 5-2 win over Calgary on Sunday, Chicago skated into Phoenix and left town with a 6-0 victory. Cristobal Huet turned aside all 22 Coyotes shots faced to post his second shutout of the season and 19th of his career.

Adam Burish had one of Chicago's four first-period goals to go along with two assists. Kris Versteeg, Colin Fraser, Ben Eager also scored in the opening frame, while Jonathan Toews ended with two goals and a helper.

Chicago has won its last two games despite playing without Patrick Kane due to a high right ankle sprain. Kane remains day-to-day with the ailment.

The Blackhawks, who trail Detroit by eight points for first place in the Central Division, play the second of three straight road games tonight. Chicago is 10-6-3 on the road, where its has won six of its last seven.

Colorado returns home for back-to-back games after limping into Nashville on Tuesday. Despite playing without Paul Stastny, Joe Sakic, Adam Foote and Ian Laperriere, the Avalanche managed to post a 2-1 victory over the Predators to snap a three-game losing streak.

Wojtek Wolski scored twice, with both tallies being set up by Milan Hejduk, who was named a reserve for the 2009 Western All-Star team on Wednesday.

Andrew Raycroft was sharp between the pipes, winning his fifth straight start with a 22-save performance. Raycroft is 7-1-0 in limited duty this season.

Foote was placed on injured reserve due to a triceps injury, while Laperriere missed the contest due to a back injury. Stastny, meanwhile, remains on IR due to right forearm surgery, as does Sakic. Sakic had surgery for a herniated disc on Wednesday and is expected to be out another 10 weeks.

The 39-year-old hasn't played since November 28 game and was originally expected to be sidelined six weeks due to his back before injuring himself again early last month in a snow blower accident. He underwent surgery to repair three broken fingers and tendon damage and the timetable for a return was three months, but that has since been pushed back.

Colorado, 11-8-0 at home this year, could decide to go with Raycroft again tonight due to his personal five-game winning streak. Raycroft has lost both of his career starts against Chicago, yielding seven goals on 64 shots, while No. 1 netminder Peter Budaj is 3-2-1 versus the Blackhawks with a 2.99 goals against average.

Tonight is the third meeting of the season between the Blackhawks and Avalanche, with Chicago winning the first two. The Hawks have won three straight and seven of the last 10 in the series and have won two of three and three of their last five at Colorado.

Huet is 2-2-0 with a tie, one shutout and a 2.31 GAA in his career versus the Avs.

01/08 10:40:41 ET


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