Avs seek better start against Blackhawks

(SportsNetwork.com) – The Colorado Avalanche have managed to overcome slow
starts over consecutive wins in part because of the play by their third-string

The Avalanche, though, aim for a better 60-minute effort on Wednesday night as
they play host to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Colorado has followed a similar path in winning its past two games, falling
behind in the first period before battling back for a win. The Avalanche
trailed Carolina 3-1 on Saturday before rallying for a 4-3 victory, then
overcame a 3-0 first-period deficit to top the Arizona Coyotes 4-3 in overtime
last night.

Gabriel Landeskog had two goals and Matt Duchene netted the tying goal before
Danny Briere put home the winning goal with 1:44 to go in overtime as his
cross-ice pass hit off the stick of Arizona’s Martin Hanzal and in.

That gave the Avs a fourth victory in five games overall.

“We were resilient tonight,” said Avalanche coach Patrick Roy. “I was very
happy with our players tonight, the way we battled.”

For the second straight game, Reto Berra was pulled early and Calvin Pickard
earned the victory in relief. Pickard secured his first career win in the game
against the Hurricanes, then stopped all 25 shots he faced over the final
52:23 of last night’s contest.

With No. 1 netminder Semyon Varlamov still out with a groin injury, Pickard is
expected to make his second career start tonight and first since Oct. 18.

It won’t be an easy task for the rookie, who will face off with a Blackhawks
squad that netted 17 goals over a three-game winning streak that came to an
end with Sunday’s 4-1 loss in Vancouver.

Kris Versteeg potted the lone goal for Chicago, which had won the first two of
a six-game road trip, and Corey Crawford made 26 saves in his 11th straight

“It was a tough one,” said Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook. “I don’t think
we played our best.”

Crawford also started the previous night in a 7-1 win over Edmonton as an
illness to backup Antti Raanta prevented Crawford from getting a game off.

Despite the workload, Crawford will start again tonight and is 2-6-2 in his
career versus the Avalanche with a 3.36 goals against average and .866 save
percentage in 10 meetings (9 starts).

Forward Andrew Shaw is slated to return from an upper-body injury for the
‘Hawks tonight, having missed the past three.

The Avalanche have won four of five and eight of their past 11 versus the
Blackhawks, including six of the last eight matchups in Colorado.