Wednesday, March 12, 2014
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Preview: Blackhawks at Avalanche

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[March 12, 2014]  The Colorado Avalanche have a chance to move into second place in the Central Division but they will be without two key players for their showdown with the visiting Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night. The Avalanche trail Chicago by one point and are short-handed following the loss of PA Parenteau, who is expected to miss the rest of the regular season with a knee injury sustained in Monday's win over Winnipeg. Colorado forward Paul Stastny will sit out his third straight game with a back injury.

The Avalanche have won three of four this season against the reigning Stanley Cup champions, including a 4-2 victory in Chicago on March 4. The Blackhawks rebounded from the loss to Colorado by hammering Columbus 6-1 before squeezing out a 2-1 victory at Buffalo on Sunday night as they try to keep within striking distance of division-leading St. Louis. With starting netminder Corey Crawford having lost his last six starts (0-4-2) against the Avalanche, Antti Raanta will make his first start since Jan. 28.

TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, CSN Chicago, ALT (Denver)

ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (38-13-14): Captain Jonathan Toews went into the Olympic break with only two goals in a 12-game span, but he has scored six times during a four-game goal-scoring streak. "I think he's returned from the Olympics in great shape, very confident," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said of Toews. "He just seems to have the knack, has good pace with it, has the puck a lot as well. And when he's around the net, he's getting rewarded." Patrick Kane, who leads Chicago with 66 points and is second to Patrick Sharp (29) with 28 goals, scored against his hometown team of Buffalo to end a five-game goal drought.

ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (42-18-5): Matt Duchene, who was a teammate of Toews on Team Canada's gold medal-winning hockey team, is also on a red-hot tear since returning from the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Duchene scored the game-winning overtime goal in Monday's win to extend his point streak to a career-high eight games, during which he has recorded 12 points to boost his team-high total to 60. Parenteau suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee on his second shift of Monday's contest and is expected to miss four-to-six weeks. He had scored four times in his previous six games.

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  1. Avalanche G Semyon Varlamov has won all three starts against Chicago this season.

  2. Blackhawks F Marian Hossa (upper body) will sit out his fourth straight game.

  3. Toews has 12 goals and 13 assists in 24 career games against Colorado.

PREDICTION: Avalanche 3, Blackhawks 2

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