The Chicago Blackhawks’ first winning streak since late October began with the team’s first victory against a Central Division foe this season.
Extending that success will be the aim Thursday when the defending Central — and Stanley Cup — champion Colorado Avalanche visit United Center.
Victories on Friday against Arizona and Sunday over Calgary have boosted the Blackhawks to 2-2 on their seven-game homestand. It’s the first time the club has won successive games since a run of four straight victories from Oct. 15-25.
Incidentally, veteran forward Patrick Kane (lower-body injury) has been out of the lineup during the surge. He was placed on injured reserve Thursday, however coach Luke Richardson said Kane is expected to return to the ice for Saturday’s game against the visiting Seattle Kraken.
Kane said this week that although he’s improving, he “just didn’t feel right” during a Jan. 3 loss to Tampa Bay and likely shouldn’t have played.
“The last two games, I think I probably could’ve played,” Kane said. “It’s just we knew we had these three days in between (before the Colorado game), so it’s just better to be cautious with it and (I) had some treatment coming in, so just trying to be smart with it right now. But, hopefully, I’ll be back soon.”
On Sunday, rookie Lukas Reichel helped fill the void, scoring his first career goal while assisting on two others, including Max Domi’s game-winner at 1:04 of overtime.
Chicago recalled Reichel, the team’s top prospect, from AHL Rockford ahead of the Arizona game, and Richardson affirmed Reichel’s latest stint with Chicago won’t be abbreviated.
“It’s not just a flash, coming up for a game or two,” Richardson said. “I think it’s just to give him an extended time to see if he can sustain what he’s doing right now. I’m sure he’s driven to do that.”
Colorado comes to Chicago with losses in six of its past seven games (1-5-1). The Avalanche trailed Florida 4-1 after two periods Tuesday and rallied with the first three goals of the third before the Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk netted the game-winner on a power-play goal with 3:30 remaining.
“We didn’t play well enough for 40 minutes, in my opinion,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “It’s just not good enough. I think we get some shooting luck and more intensity to our game in our third and it starts to turn around for us, but it wasn’t there. Didn’t manage the puck good in the first. Didn’t like the way we checked in the second.”
J.T. Compher and Mikko Rantanen both had a goal and an assist for Colorado, which has been outscored 30-20 in regulation and overtime over the past seven games while struggling with slow starts.
“We know we have (the ability),” Colorado’s Cale Makar said. “It’s just, why is that not in the first and second period? We should be like that in the entire game because we know we’re capable of it. It’s just figuring out how we can do that.”
Goaltender Alexandar Georgiev stopped 33 shots while starting his career-high 12th consecutive game.
Colorado defeated the visiting Blackhawks 5-2 on Oct. 12 in the season opener for both teams.
–Field Level Media