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Avalanche 3, Blackhawks 2

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DENVER -- Goaltender Semyon Varlamov stopped 37 shots, centers Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly had a goal and an assist each and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on Wednesday night.

Center Brad Malone also scored for Colorado, which beat the Blackhawks for the third straight time this season.

The Avalanche won the season series 4-1 and now hold a one-point lead (91-90) on the Blackhawks for the second seed in the Central Division.

The defending champions are in danger of starting the playoffs on the road against Colorado -- a team that has won eight of its last 11 against the Blackhawks.

Right winger Patrick Kane and center Brandon Saad scored for Chicago. Goalie Antti Raanta had 26 saves in his first game since Jan. 28.

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville started Raanta, a rookie, after he had a couple of solid performances against the Avalanche this year. No. 1 goaltender Corey Crawford is 0-2-1 against the Avalanche this season. In the teams' first meeting Nov. 19, Crawford allowed three goals in 13 minutes before Raanta came on in Colorado's 5-1 win.

Wednesday, the Avalanche were missing two key players from that win -- center Paul Stastny and right winger P.A. Parenteau. Stastny is day-to-day with a back injury but Parenteau is out for at least the remainder of the regular season with a sprained MCL in his right knee.

One of the call-ups, Malone, got Colorado rolling with a bad-angle goal at 18:24 of the second period. His shot from near the boards and below the left circle beat Raanta between the pads.

Duchene made it 2-0 just 19 seconds into the second period when he beat Raanta high.

Duchene's 22nd goal seemed to wake up the Blackhawks. They began to carry the play and finally broke through at 8:23 of the second.

Kane picked up the puck in the neutral zone, skated into the Colorado end and stickhandled by defenseman Jan Hejda. He then held the puck until the last moment before roofing a backhander by Varlamov to make it 2-1.

It was Kane's team-leading 29th goal of the season.

O'Reilly made it 3-1 when he scored on a 5-on-3 power play. It was his 25th of the season.

The Blackhawks pulled Raanta for an extra skater at 2:32, and Saad scored with 2:17 left. Raanta went off again in the final two minutes but the Blackhawks could not get the equalizer.

NOTES: The Avalanche called up C Brad Malone and C Paul Carey from Lake Erie of the AHL. Their recalls were necessary after C Paul Stastny was ruled out for the game and RW P.A. Parenteau was lost for the rest of the regular season. ... Chicago D Niklas Hjalmarsson was in the lineup after sitting out Tuesday's practice. He took two shots off his leg during Sunday's win in Buffalo. ... Colorado D Cory Sarich was a healthy scratch. The Avalanche are carrying seven defenseman and are rotating players into the lineup. ... Chicago RW Marian Hossa missed his fourth straight game with an upper-body injury.
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