Preview: Blackhawks at Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche welcome Mikko Rantanen back to the lineup Saturday when they host the Chicago Blackhawks in the back end of a home-and-home series. Colorado went 8-7-1 with their All-Star winger out with an ankle injury, including a 5-2 victory Friday in Chicago behind a goal and three assists from linemate Nathan MacKinnon.
MacKinnon has five goals and eight assists during a six-game point streak, and 11 goals and 27 points without Rantanen in the lineup. "When we get some injuries like this, he's really put the team on his back," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar told reporters. "He's been consistently hard and heavy on pucks. He's using his speed. He's finding a way to contribute every night. He's making his linemen look better while doing it. That's what you need from your stars. He's certainly been carrying the load." Chicago is 1-3-1 in its last five games and won't have defenseman Duncan Keith in the lineup Saturday after the two-time Norris Trophy winner sustained a groin injury Friday. "Hopefully he's be back soon," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews told reporters. "Not used to being out there without a guy like him.''
TV: 9 p.m. ET, NBCS Chicago, Altitude
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (10-10-5): Patrick Kane paces the team with 13 goals and 32 points, and has 10 goals and 13 assists during his 14-game point streak - the longest active run in the league. Alex DeBrincat's scoring drought sits at 10 games, leaving him with five goals - tied for third-most on the team with Brandon Saad at seven. Corey Crawford stopped 18 shots Friday and will likely yield the net to Robin Lehner (5-4-3, 2.38 goals-against average, league-best .938 save percentage) for the rematch.
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (15-8-2): MacKinnon's 16 goals and 39 points lead the club and he's on pace to score 52 goals after recording a career-high 41 last season. Defenseman Cale Makar leads NHL rookies with 26 points after scoring his eighth goal Friday, which trails Buffalo right wing Victor Olofsson by two for the most among Calder Trophy hopefuls. Philipp Grubauer (8-5-2, 2.86 GAA, .912 SP) is expected to be in goal after Pavel Francouz stopped 34 shots Friday.
1. Colorado LW Andre Burakovsky (11 goals, 21 points) did not play Friday after sustaining an upper-body injury in Wednesday's 4-1 victory over Edmonton.
2. Chicago C Dylan Strome (five goals, 17 points, team-best plus-10) has missed the last two games (concussion).
3. Rantanen skated on a line with MacKinnon and Joonas Donskoi at Thursday's practice.
PREDICTION: Avalanche 3, Blackhawks 2