BRON­COS HEADED TO KANSAS CITY MI­NUS KEY PLAY­ERS

Bron­cos won’t have Mar­shall, Ward and two tight ends for big game against Chiefs.

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Nicki Jhab­vala

The Bron­cos will face the Chiefs in windy Kansas City on Sun­day night de­pleted and des­per­ate for a vic­tory.

Coach Gary Ku­biak has ruled out in­side line­backer Bran­don Mar­shall (ham­string in­jury), as well as safety and lead­ing tack­ler T.J. Ward and tight ends A.J. Derby and Vir­gil Green (all con­cus­sions) for Sun­day’s game.

De­fen­sive end Derek Wolfe, who ag­gra­vated a neck in­jury against New Eng­land on Sun­day, is sick and listed as ques­tion­able to play. The Bron­cos will eval­u­ate him again Satur­day, but Ku­biak said he’s hope­ful Wolfe will be healthy enough to suit up.

“He got sick on us yes­ter­day and tried to come in to­day and we ended up send­ing him to the doc­tor, so we’ll see,” Ku­biak said Fri­day. “We got a lot of time on our hands be­fore we play Sun­day night. We’ll see.”

To bol­ster the depth at tight end be­hind Jeff Heuer­man, the Bron­cos pro­moted rookie Henry Krieger-Coble from their prac­tice squad and waived backup quar­ter­back Austin Davis to clear a ros­ter spot.

With Ward out, Ku­biak said rookie safeties Justin Sim­mons and Will Parks “are in­ter­change­able” and both will play Sun­day at Ar­row­head Stadium.

“Through­out the week, Will and I are al­ways in there in base (de­fense) any­way to get the cer­tain looks in case we have to be thrown into the fire,” Sim­mons said. “Now it’s just go­ing out there and ex­e­cut­ing. (Dar­ian Ste­wart) and T.J. have done a great job, along with (cor­ner­backs) Chris (Har­ris) and Aqib (Talib) in help­ing us out, help­ing us ad­just and pick­ing up looks and ten­den­cies, all that good stuff.”

In­juries have been pil­ing up for the Bron­cos, and the loss of Ward, Mar­shall and their top tight end tar­gets couldn’t come at a worse time.

At 8-6 and in ninth place in the

didn’t set­tle into their Chicago ho­tel un­til 3 a.m. Fri­day. Goalie Calvin Pickard, who played the last half of Thurs­day’s game against the Maple Leafs, had 38 saves in a sen­sa­tional goal­tend­ing dis­play at both ends.

If Black­hawks goalie Corey Craw­ford (32 saves) was any­thing less than ex­cep­tional, the Avalanche would have snapped its goal-less drought long be­fore it ap­proached a fran­chise record span­ning the bad teams of the Que­bec Nordiques, be­fore they re­lo­cated to Colorado in 1995.

“It was a lot of fun, play­ing against one of the best goalies in the league,” Pickard said. “It seemed like it was go­ing to take a per­fect shot to beat him tonight. We had break­aways, a lot of chances, and he was mak­ing some un­be­liev­able saves. It was nice to see Mikko tie it up there, and once it was 1-1, you just had that feel­ing we would fin­ish it off.”

Ran­ta­nen fi­nally got a puck past Craw­ford early in the third pe­riod to forge a 1-1 tie. Barrie faked a shot and threw the puck at Ran­ta­nen’s stick, chang­ing its direc­tion and fool­ing Craw­ford. Colorado had been shut out 2-0 and 6-0 in its pre­vi­ous two games; the fran­chise record for con­sec­u­tive shutout losses is two, hap­pen­ing six times.

The dif­fer­ence through two pe­ri­ods was Craw­ford’s re­mark­able save on Ran­ta­nen dur­ing the Avalanche’s first and only power play. At the other end, Pickard couldn’t make the same kind of save on Jonathan Toews, who scored on the power play to give Chicago a 1-0 lead. Toews swat­ted the puck in from midair. Oth­er­wise, Pickard was tremen­dous.

Ran­ta­nen had an open net to shoot at from the left post, but his tap-in was swat­ted away by Craw­ford’s pad­dle. The sprawl­ing save pre­served the Black­hawks’ lead and Colorado’s score­less streak in­creased to eight con­sec­u­tive pe­ri­ods.

“He robbed me once in the sec­ond pe­riod, and that was both­er­ing me,” Ran­ta­nen said. “So it was nice to get it back.”

The Avs were the bet­ter team early. They pro­duced the game’s first eight shots and out­hit Chicago 16-6 in the first pe­riod. They out­shot the Hawks 13-12 de­spite tak­ing the only penalty of the frame.

“We felt like we were go­ing to get re­warded even­tu­ally. We fi­nally did in the third,” said MacKin­non. “‘Tys’ made a great play to Mikko and then an­other good play to me in over­time. It just shows that when we want to play, when we’re ready to play, we’re a very good team and can play with any­body.”

Mikko Ran­ta­nen (96) cel­e­brates with his Avalanche team­mates af­ter scor­ing against the Black­hawks dur­ing the third pe­riod of Fri­day night’s game in Chicago. Kamil Krza­czyn­ski, The As­so­ci­ated Press

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