BLACKHAWKS (14-3-4) vs. AVALANCHE (14-5-0)
TV: ALT, CSN-CH
Last 10: Chicago 8-1-1; Colorado 6-4-0
Season series: The Colorado Avalanche welcomes in the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night in the first of four games this season between the now-Central Division opponents. The last met March 18, 2013, with Chicago earning a 5-2 win, paced by a goal and two assists each from Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
Big story: The circus has invaded United Center, so the Blackhawks begin Tuesday in Denver a marathon seven-game trip that won't have them playing another home game until Dec. 3. They face an Avalanche team that's lost three straight games since setting a franchise record for the hottest start through 16 games (14-2).
"I don't know if three games is a slump," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said Monday after practice. "My standpoint is: I haven't changed one bit. The start that we have, people start thinking differently of us, which is what we want at some point, but I haven't changed. It's one game at a time and we'll be focused on Chicago [Tuesday] night."
Blackhawks: Chicago forward Patrick Sharp spoke for his teammates Saturday, following a 7-2 loss to the Nashville Predators: "We were all embarrassed." The Blackhawks bounced back the next night with a 5-1 win against the San Jose Sharks.
''We weren't happy with the last game, obviously,'' goalie Corey Crawford said Sunday. ''Tonight was one of our better efforts all around, defensively, from everyone in this room."
The victory also marked Kris Versteeg's return to the Windy City after he was reacquired in a trade with the Panthers. A member of Chicago's 2010 Stanley Cup-winning team, Versteeg had a goal and assist against the Sharks.
Avalanche: Any turnaround will have to be accomplished without center Matt Duchene for at least the next week. Duchene was compiling a Hart-worthy season (12 goals, 20 points) until he left the game Saturday night against Florida with an oblique injury. Rookie Nathan MacKinnon replaced Duchene between Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O'Reilly during practice Monday.
"It's an opportunity for others," Roy said. "I'm pretty excited to try Landy with MacKinnon and O'Reilly."
Who's hot: O'Reilly has five goals and two assists in the Avalanche's past seven games and eight goals and 14 points on the season. MacKinnon has 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 19 games. Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp had two goals and an assist in the win against the Sharks and has seven goals and 13 assists in 21 games. Rookie center Brandon Pirri has goals in three straight games and a four-game point streak. Versteeg has three points in two games with Chicago. Patrick Kane has a point in seven straight.
Injury report: The Blackhawks hope to get Marian Hossa (lower body) back for the game Tuesday. Backup goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (lower body) could be out, "a bit," according to coach Joel Quenneville. Michal Handzus (upper body) has missed the past eight games. Michael Kostka (lower body) and Brad Mills (lower body) remain sidelined … For Colorado, Alex Tanguay (knee) was placed on IR retroactive to Nov. 2 and Ryan Wilson (back) was placed on IR retroactive to Nov. 6. Andre Benoit (wrist) could return Tuesday night.
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