Patrick Kane has been a huge problem for many of the Chicago Blackhawks’ opponents this season thanks to his ability in the offensive zone. No team has gotten a better reminder of what Kane can do than the Colorado Avalanche.
After dominating the Avalanche for two of his best games this season, Kane will try to do it again Tuesday night as the Blackhawks try for an 11th win in their last 12 at home.
Kane assisted on all three goals in the Blackhawks’ 3-2 victory over Colorado on Nov. 26, then grabbed another assist and scored two of his own in Chicago’s 5-2 win on Dec. 27. He has tallied a point in 10 of his last 11 games and is on pace for his first 30-goal season since 2009-10.
That production has proved useful for Chicago (26-11-2), which recently has made a habit out of falling behind early. The Blackhawks have allowed the first goal in each of their last five games, but have come from behind in three of those after Sunday’s 5-4 overtime win against Dallas.
"A couple of times this year we’ve been down late in the game and found a way to tie it up." Patrick Sharp told the Blackhawks’ official website after scoring the winner. "It speaks to really, a total team effort. We have a number of guys who want to score that goal and a good team system that allows us to get those chances."
Teuvo Teravainen, the Blackhawks’ top prospect, made his season-debut Sunday and will play again Tuesday. The 20-year-old winger has played in four career NHL games and has yet to record a point, but had three shots against the Stars.
"That’s the mindset he’s got to have: want the puck and be in position offensively and defensively to be around the puck," coach Joel Quenneville said. "That was a good start for him, and (Tuesday) we’ll see how he does."
Corey Crawford will start for the third time against Colorado (15-16-8) this season as he looks to bounce back after posting a 3.56 goals-against average over his last three starts.
Colorado, playing its only road contest in a six-game stretch, fell 4-3 to Columbus on Sunday after beating Philadelphia and Edmonton in its previous two.
Still, the struggling Avalanche seem pleased with their recently improved play.
"We played very well in the third period. We had a lot of chances to score. We just didn’t score," Semyon Varlamov, who allowed the game-winning goal with just over one minute remaining, told the Avalanche’s official website. "That goal at the end of the game, that was bad luck."
Varlamov posted a 4-0-0 record and 1.59 GAA against Chicago in 2013-14, but he has a 3.63 GAA in 10 road starts this season and did not play in either previous meeting with the Blackhawks.
"Colorado has been playing well," Quenneville said. "I don’t think you can underestimate anybody in our division, in our conference. It’s going to be a dogfight the rest of the way."