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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, January 18th (All times eastern)

Chicago Blackhawks (21-21-4) at Colorado Avalanche (25-18-3), 9 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Colorado Avalanche are finally getting stable play in net. No surprise then that the club will try to extend a three-game winning streak tonight with a clash against the Chicago Blackhawks at the Pepsi Center.

In a 3-0 win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday, Jose Theodore made 32 saves, including 22 in the third period, to earn his first shutout of the season and first since February 28, 2004, a span of 109 games. It was also the 24th shutout of his career.

Theodore has appeared in 22 games so far this year to Peter Budaj's 26, but has been in net for each of Colorado's last six games, going 4-2-0 in that span with a 1.81 goals-against average. His current three-game winning streak matches his longest of the season.

The netminder hasn't posted four straight wins since October 31-November 8, 2005 as a member of the Montreal Canadiens.

That has been big for a club that is without a pair of veterans in Joe Sakic (hernia surgery) and Ryan Smyth (broken right ankle), who are both on injured reserve.

Colorado lost another big piece on Thursday when Paul Stastny had his appendix removed and will miss about 2-3 weeks. The center has 17 goals and 32 assists on the season for a team-high 49 points and was named to the All-Star squad but will now be unable to play in the game.

Stastny has never missed a game in his young NHL career, playing in all 82 games last year and 46 this season.

Stastny had a goal and an assist against the Lightning, while Jeff Finger and Milan Hejduk also scored for the Avs, who have also won four of six overall. Andrew Brunette added two assists.

Colorado begins a five-game homestand tonight and has lost three of its last four as the host. The Avalanche are 16-6-0 at the Pepsi Center this year and will also host Columbus, Nashville, Minnesota and Chicago a second time on the stand.

Chicago is showing signs of turning things around following an eight-game skid, as the Blackhawks have won two straight after a 6-1 victory over St. Louis on Wednesday.

Rookie Patrick Kane posted two goals and an assist to lead the rout. Dustin Byfuglien registered a goal and two assists, Jack Skille and Rene Bourque each added a goal and an assist, while Brent Seabrook collected two helpers. Patrick Lalime stopped 32-of-33 shots in the win.

Martin Lapointe missed his first game in a Blackhawk sweater due to the flu. Lapointe had played in 209 straight games after joining the club as a free agent in 2005.

He is questionable for tonight, while Kris Versteeg is out after suffering a bruised right shoulder in the third period of Wednesday's win.

Chicago made a roster move on Thursday, acquiring forward Craig Adams from Carolina for a conditional pick in the 2009 draft.

Chicago kicks off a three-game road trip tonight and will also visit Phoenix and San Jose on the trek. The Blackhawks are 8-9-3 on the road this year and have lost four of their last five as the visiting club.

The Blackhawks posted a 5-3 victory over the Avs in Chicago on October 19 in a game that saw Kane net his first NHL goal. He also had two assists in that contest, while Patrick Sharp, who signed a four-year contract extension on Thursday, also picked up a goal and two assists.

Chicago has won three of its last five meetings with Colorado, but has dropped two of its last three trips to the Pepsi Center.

01/18 10:40:00 ET


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