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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: Avs look to sweep the home and home with Chicago

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Mikko Rantanen makes his return to the AValanche lineup

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Chicago Blackhawks Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Opponents: Chicago Blackhawks (10-10-5)
Where: Pepsi Center - Denver, Colorado
Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. MT
Watch: Altitude
Listen: Altitude 92.5
Opponent SB Nation site: Second City Hockey

The Colorado Avalanche were able to grab a 5-2 victory in the first leg of their back to back with the Chicago Blackhawks. Though the score was lopsided for the Avs, it was the Blackhawks who thoroughly outplayed the opposition for most of the game. The shots ended 36-23 for Chicago and if it weren’t for the tremendous play of backup Pavel Francouz, the Avalanche could have easily squandered a great opening five minutes.

Luckily for the Avalanche they have the hottest player in the game carrying the offensive load. Nathan MacKinnon scored in the opening minute of the game and finished with four points.

Though the team has struggled through a ridiculous string of injuries, good news is finally here. Mikko Rantanen is ready to play his first game since October 21st. The big Finn will provide some support for MacKinnon while allowing coach Bednar to re-organize his top-9 in order to create a more balanced attack.

Cale Makar added a goal of his own pushing his season total to 26 points in only 25 games. The kid is on pace to shatter the rookie defenseman scoring record and has been doing so while being given more and more responsibility defensively.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche were able to get off to a quick start yesterday with two goals in the first four minutes. It’s the kind of start you like to see from the team, however, the second half of the game left a lot to be desired. Sitting back on the lead worked out yesterday, but it’s a style that can come back to bite a team. Hopefully the team can put together a more complete effort tonight at home.

Nathan MacKinnon led the way with a goal and three assists, stretching his point streak to six games. The Avs superstar has 13 points over that time and now he gets his all star winger back. The league is in some trouble.

After yesterday’s game, the Avs returned AJ Greer to the Eagles making room for Mikko Rantanen to be activated off of the IR. With Mikko back in the lineup, we’re likely to see Sheldon Dries head to the press box.

Forwards

Joonas Donskoi - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Tyson Jost - Nazem Kadri - JT Compher
Valeri Nichushkin - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Logan O’Connor
Matt Nieto - Vladislav Kamenev - TJ Tynan

Defense

Nikita Zadorov - Cale Makar
Samuel Girard - Calle Rosen
Ian Cole - Ryan Graves
Barberio

Chicago Blackhawks

The Hawks were able to put on a very impressive push over the second and third period yesterday. Their focus tonight will undoubtedly be to get off to a better start. Brandon Saad led the way with 6 shots on net yesterday while the line of Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach looked dangerous for most of the game.

The Blackhawks were the better team for 50 minutes yesterday so they will likely come into tonight’s game with confidence that they can even out the home and home series.

Forwards

Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Alexander Nylander
Alex DeBrincat - Kirby Dach - Patrick Kane
Dominik Kubalik - David Kampf - Andrew Shaw
Zack Smith - Ryan Carpenter - Matthew Highmore

Defense

Duncan Keith - Erik Gustafsson
Calvin de Haan - Brent Seabrook
Olli Maatta - Connor Murphy

Goaltenders

Tonight’s matchup will be Philipp Grubauer against Robin Lehner as both had the day off yesterday. Lehner has been great this season as he is among the league leaders with a .938 sv%.