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Game 53 Preview: Blackhawks @ Avalanche

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After the All-Star break, the Avalanche (27-22-3) start the final 30 games off by hosting the first place Chicago Blackhawks (33-16-4).

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

With the All-Star festivities in the rear-view mirror, it's time for the stretch run in the NHL. For the Avalanche, that stretch begins in their highest playoff position they've held all year. After coming from behind against the Kings last Wednesday, the Avalanche moved past the Wild and into the first wild card spot in the Western Conference. While temporarily holding the spot, the Avs cannot get comfortable, however, as both the teams below them (Predators, Wild) hold games in hand over them. The best chance for the Avalanche then is to keep winning games.

The Avalanche will start their final 30-game stretch against the team currently in first place in the Western Conference, the Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks rode a 12-game winning streak earlier this year on way to passing the Dallas Stars atop the division and conference. The streak ended before the All-Star break, however, with the Hawks losing three of their last four, including two humiliating shutouts to the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers. The Hawks will look to get back on the right foot as they kick off the post All-Star break with a three-game road trip starting in Denver Tuesday night.

LINES

Duchene-MacKinnon-Iginla

Landeskog-Soderberg-Comeau

Tanguay-Grigorenko-Wagner

McLeod-Mitchell-Skille

Beauchemin-Johnson

Holden-Barrie

Bigras-Redmond

Pickard

Varlamov

Scratches: Martinsen, Guenin, Bodnarchuk

NOTES

- The Hawks will be without their captain, Jonathan Toews, who is serving a one-game suspension for not participating in the All-Star weekend.

- Nathan MacKinnon has goals in three of his last four games.

- The Avs lone All-Star, Matt Duchene is tied with Evgeni Malkin for seventh in NHL goal scoring with 23 goals.

GAME INFO

Game Time: 7pm MT

TV: ALT