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BLACKHAWKS (38-13-14) at AVALANCHE (42-18-5)
TV: Altitude, CSN Chicago
Last 10: Chicago 6-3-1; Colorado 6-4-0
Season series: This is the fifth and final game between the Avalanche and Blackhawks. Colorado has won three of four, including a 4-2 win March 4 at United Center. Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie scored the game winner 12:50 into the third period, giving hime two game-winning goals against Chicago this season, both at United Center.
Big story: Second place in the Western Conference's Central Division is at stake as the Avalanche, which has won five of six, plays the third of a four-game homestand. The Blackhawks hold a one-point edge over the Avalanche in the division, but Colorado holds the tiebreaker having won more games in regulation and overtime (39-33). Colorado, 22-9-3 at Pepsi Center, has the most wins (19) and points (39) of any team since Dec. 31. Each team has just 17 regular-season games remaining.
The Avalanche is dealing with some injury issues, with Paul Stastny listed as day-to-day with a back injury and PA Parenteau out for the rest of the regular season with a knee injury. Colorado knocked off Winnipeg on Monday night with a starting lineup of 11 forwards and seven defenseman that shrank to 10 forward after Parenteau left early in the first period.
"'Don't try and feel sorry for yourself.' That is what I said to the guys: 'Keep going and we'll win the game,'" Avalanche coach Patrick Roy told reporters after the game. "We have to remain positive, that's for sure, but at the same time, all year we have battled through adversity, and tonight was another example."
Blackhawks: Buffalo native Patrick Kane scored one goal on four shots to help defeat the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 Sunday at First Niagara Center. It marked Kane's first game back in his hometown since Oct. 11, 2010, and it was his third goal in Buffalo. Jonathan Toews scored 1:34 into the third period to snap a 1-1 tie against the Sabres. The win was the third in four games for the Blackhawks, who have excelled at killing penalties over the last month. In the past 17 games the Blackhawks have given up just six power-play goals (55 of 61; 90.2 percent). For the season the Blackhawks rank 19th in the NHL with an 81.1 percent efficiency on the penalty kill.
"I think confidence is part of it," coach Joel Quenneville said of the penalty kill. "You're always going to have some good stretches and bad stretches, and we certainly had a bad stretch for too long for us, but I like how we're trending."
Avalanche: Despite having just 10 healthy forwards against the Jets on Monday, Colorado scored a 3-2 victory when Matt Duchene scored 2:33 into overtime. Varlamov stopped 33 shots for win No. 32 and John Mitchell, and Andre Benoit also scored.
"We're not out of the race for the division lead or No. 1 in the NHL," Duchene said. "We're right there. We just have to keep working hard here. I mean, that's a character win [Monday]. There's no other way to describe that. Guys just played their hearts out."
Who's hot: Toews has six goals, seven points and a plus-4 rating in five games for the Blackhawks since his return from the Olympic break. … Nathan MacKinnon has seven goals, 22 points and a plus-11 rating in the past 18 games for the Avs, and Duchene is on a career-high eight-game point streak (four goals, eight assists).
Injury report: Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa (upper body) is out at least two weeks. … Colorado is without Parenteau (right knee) for at least the next four to six weeks, according to Roy, and forward Alex Tanguay (hip) is on Injured Reserve. Forward Paul Stastny (back) is day-to-day.
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