Blackhawks try to rebound in Colorado

(SportsNetwork.com) – The Chicago Blackhawks aim to rebound from only their
third loss in 14 games as they visit the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night
at Pepsi Center.

The Blackhawks had an eight-game home winning streak snapped with a 5-1
setback to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. Marian Hossa had the lone goal, while
Corey Crawford allowed three goals on 13 shots before getting lifted in the
first period.

Antti Raanta made 11 saves in relief as Chicago lost at home for the first
time since Nov. 7 versus Washington.

“I think we’ve been in every hockey game except for tonight,” Blackhawks head
coach Joel Quenneville said. “Disappointing ending to a very good stretch.”

The Blackhawks still come out of the Christmas break leading the Central
Division by two points over the Nashville Predators and it figures to be a
busy upcoming week for the club.

Chicago will host second-place Nashville on Monday before visiting the
Capitals on New Year’s Day for the 2015 Winter Classic.

Crawford should get a chance tonight to shake off his recent outing. Tuesday
was just his second game since he missed eight in a row with a lower-body
injury.

But Crawford is just 3-6-2 versus Colorado lifetime with a 3.22 goals against
average and .874 save percentage in 11 meetings with 10 starts.

The Avalanche are riding their longest winning streak of the season, picking
up a third victory in a row with Tuesday’s 5-0 win over the St. Louis Blues.
Semyon Varlamov returned to action with 26 saves for his second shutout of the
season and 15th of his career.

Varlamov played for the first time since Dec. 5 due to a groin injury, an
aliment that has sidelined him three separate times this season.

“We played a real solid game the whole 60 minutes,” said Varlamov. “It is much
easier to play when the guys score lots of goals.”

Alex Tanguay and Ryan O’Reilly each had one goal and an assist for the
Avalanche, who have points in six straight (4-0-2). Jarome Iginla, Zach
Redmond and Erik Johnson also lit the lamp.

Varlamov was backed up on Tuesday by Calvin Pickard, who has gone 6-5-2 with a
2.06 GAA and .939 save percentage in 13 games (10 starts) this season,
excelling when filling due to injury.

Pickard is expected to start tonight, but may eventually go back to the minors
for more playing time if Varlamov remains healthy. The Avalanche also have
goaltender Reto Berra on the roster.

Pickard faced the Blackhawks for the first time on Nov. 26 at home and lost,
giving up three goals on 45 shots.

That 3-2 win by Chicago came in the first of five meetings this season and
snapped Colorado’s three-game series win streak.