Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series tied 2-2

Game 1: Friday, October 14th
Game 2: Thursday, January 19th
Game 3: Thursday, March 9th
Game 4: Monday, April 3rd

Avalanche 2

(36-23-6, 78 pts)

Blackhawks 1

(20-33-9, 49 pts)

8:30 PM ET, March 9, 2006

United Center, Chicago, Illinois

1 2 3 T
COL 1 1 02
CHI 1 0 01

A. Laaksonen (Avalanche - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

N. Khabibulin (Blackhawks - G): Saves: 22, Save Pct.: .917

C. Brown (Blackhawks - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Colorado (35-23-6) at Chicago (20-32-9) 8:30 pm EST

Colorado (35-23-6) at Chicago (20-32-9) 8:30 pm EST

CHICAGO (Ticker) -- After sitting out 13 straight games, Nikolai Khabibulin appears ready to salvage a disappointing season.

Khabibulin is expected to make his return in goal for the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday as they go for their third win in five games when they host the Colorado Avalanche.

After spraining a ligament in his right knee January 20, Khabibulin missed 12 contests before backing up Craig Anderson in Chicago's 3-1 triumph over Columbus.

Khabibulin led the Tampa Bay Lightning to the 2004 Stanley Cup title before signing a four-year, $27-million contract with Chicago, the richest in franchise history. However, he is just 12-18-3 with a 3.32 goals-against average this season.

Although they have won three of five, the Avalanche have their own goaltender concerns following Wednesday's trade that sent David Aebischer to Montreal for former Hart and Vezina Trophy winner Jose Throdore, who is sidelined with a fractured right heel.

Joe Sakic scored his 22nd goal in regulation and Milan Hejduk added the shootout clincher to lead Colorado in Tuesday's 2-1 win over St. Louis.

Despite dropping both meetings with Chicago this season, the Avalanche trail Calgary by one point for the top spot in the tightly-paced Northwest Division. Colorado also sits in fifth place in the Western Conference, one point ahead of division-rival Vancouver.