Final OT

Series (Game 4 of 4)

Colorado leads 3-0

Game 1: Friday, October 10th
Game 2: Sunday, November 9th
Game 3: Sunday, January 11th
Game 4: Tuesday, March 23rd

Blackhawks 2

(20-38-6, 57 pts)

Avalanche 2

(38-20-5, 94 pts)

9:00 PM ET, March 23, 2004

Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

1 2 3 OT T
CHI 0 0 2 02
COL 0 2 0 02

J. Sakic (Avalanche - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

M. Leighton (Blackhawks - G): Saves: 41, Save Pct.: .953

T. Salo (Avalanche - G): Saves: 28, Save Pct.: .933

Avs plagued by scoring drought in Forsberg's absence news services

DENVER ( news services) -- Coming off a winless three-game road trip, the Colorado Avalanche seek to extend their lead atop the Northwest Division when they host the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night.

The Avs, who have been outscored 11-4 during the skid, should get a much-needed boost Tuesday with the return of Peter Forsberg, the team's fourth-leading scorer.

Forsberg, who has missed the last 17 games with a groin injury, was cleared to play by the Avalanche's medical staff after the team's skate on Tuesday morning, the team said in a release.

"I'm ready to go," said Forsberg, who did make it onto the ice Tuesday night. "We'll see how it goes in a game, but definitely it feels much better this time than it did before."

Despite missing 43 games this season, Forsberg has collected 17 goals and 48 points.

Without him in the lineup, Colorado has won just 17 of those 43 games and went 6-8-2-1 in his most recent stint on the injured list.

This was the fourth time Forsberg had missed time because of the injury, and he said the team's medical staff took more precautions to make sure the injury had healed completely.

"We took extra time like we did before, but this time it feels good and hopefully I continue to stay pain free the rest of the year and come back and play more than 10 games in a row," he said. "Definitely it's been a tough year, a tough injury, but something that's behind me now."

Rookie defenseman John-Michael Liles and Joe Sakic tallied for the Avalanche in Saturday's 5-2 defeat to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Paul Kariya set up Sakic's power-play goal in the second period for his 700th career point. Sakic assisted on Liles' tally and is one point away from 1,400 for his career.

The Avalanche, who also lost three in a row from February 16-20, are four points ahead of the idle Vancouver Canucks for the lead in the Northwest. Colorado has won an NHL-record nine straight division titles.

Colorado has won seven straight meetings with Chicago, including three this season. The last two games have gone to overtime and in the most recent one, Alex Tanguay scored with 78 seconds left in overtime as the Avalanche overcame a three-goal deficit to post a 5-4 victory in Chicago on January 11.

Chicago is 2-2-1 in its last five matches. On Sunday, Eric Daze and Tyler Arnason tallied for the Blackhawks in a 2-2 tie with the Phoenix Coyotes.

Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.