Series (Game 1 of 4)

Colorado leads 4-0

Game 1: Monday, November 25th
Game 2: Monday, February 17th
Game 3: Sunday, March 2nd
Game 4: Saturday, March 22nd

Blackhawks 0

(9-9-0, 21 pts)

Avalanche 1

(8-5-3, 25 pts)

9:00 PM ET, November 25, 2002

Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

1 2 3 T
CHI 0 0 00
COL 0 0 11

D. Aebischer (Avalanche - G): Saves: 26, Save Pct.: 1.000

D. Hinote (Avalanche - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

J. Thibault (Blackhawks - G): Saves: 23, Save Pct.: .958

Aebischer makes 26 saves to lead Colorado

DENVER (AP) -- During a five-game stretch at home earlier this month, the Colorado Avalanche surrendered an average of four goals per game, contributing to their home-ice woes.

So it was back to basics and an emphasis on defense, which the Avalanche used to perfection Monday night in a 1-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Dan Hinote scored with 8:37 remaining, and David Aebischer had 26 saves as Colorado won at home for only the second time this season.

Colorado, 2-4-4-1 on home ice, is unbeaten in its past four games (2-0-2-0).

It was Aebischer's sixth career shutout and the first by an Avalanche goaltender this season. It also was Aebischer's first career shutout at home.

"As a team we played well defensively,'' Aebischer said, "and that makes my job easier. The last couple of games we've played good defense, and the results are 3-1 and 1-0 wins.''

Hinote said the Avalanche "put a lot of emphasis on defense tonight. When you are struggling like we have been, you have to go back to basics, and that means defense.

"David played a great game. He's been tremendous even though his record (2-5-0) might not show it. He's kept us in a lot of games that we've played terrible in.''

Chicago, which has lost the first four games of its seven-game road trip, got 23 saves from Jocelyn Thibault.

Hinote scored his second goal after winning a faceoff in the Chicago end. Rob Blake took a shot from the point, and Hinote, who skated to the front of the net, punched in the rebound -- one of the few allowed by either goalie.

"The faceoff was a lucky draw,'' Hinote said. "It's my job to get to the net on those plays. It was a great shot from the point, and the rebound came out. I just got lucky, like usual.''

Thibault said he didn't see Blake's shot.

"I just went down in the butterfly and the rebound went right to his (Hinote's) stick,'' he said. "That's the way things have been going for us the last couple of games.''

Blackhawks coach Brian Sutter called it a disappointing game to lose. "The only difference was a lost faceoff, and they got the puck to the net and got a rebound. We had chances in the other end. Both goalies were very good.''

The Blackhawks got some good news, however, after the game. Forward Theoren Fleury, who hasn't played this season because of ongoing substance-abuse problems, has been cleared to resume practicing with the team. He will join the team Tuesday in Phoenix.

"It's great to hear that he's coming with us,'' wing Scott Sullivan said. "We could use some goal scoring right now.''

Chicago outshot Colorado 9-5 in a first period during which each team had one power play. The Blackhawks had the best scoring opportunity late in the period when, following a turnover, Eric Daze shot from point-blank range, but Aebischer made the stop.

Both goalies stepped up their play in the second period.

Eric Messier had a shot on Thibault that the Avalanche thought went across the goal line, although no goal was signaled. It was reviewed by the video goal judge, and replays were inconclusive.

Aebischer had a nice save on Sullivan's quick break midway through the period.

Thibault had consecutive saves off Blake, Martin Skoula and Derek Morris.

Colorado had a power-play opportunity early in the third period when Steve Poapst went off for slashing. But the Avs' Milan Hejduk was whistled for interference 23 seconds later.

Game notes

The Avalanche were without forward Steven Reinprecht, who is on the injured list with a shoulder injury. Center Vaclav Nedorost was scratched because of a shoulder injury. ... Blackhawks center Alexei Zhamnov, who left Saturday's game against Calgary with a leg injury, was back on the ice Monday night. ... It was Colorado's first shutout since April 3, when Patrick Roy blanked Atlanta.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press