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Crosby v. MacKinnon, Penguins Gm70: Lines, Notes & Preview vs. Avalanche

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Pittsburgh Penguins Game, Colorado Avalanche

It’s not the most important game the Pittsburgh Penguins (41-18-10) will play down the stretch. Western Conference games aren’t the four-point swings of the Metro Division battles, but this should be one of the most fun and informative games. The Penguins visit one of the best in the NHL and Western Conference favorite, Colorado Avalanche (48-14-6), at Ball Arena.

The puck drops just after 3 p.m. EST.

On Thursday night, the Penguins won a battle against the heavy Minnesota North Stars Wild. The game was physical, each team earned their scoring chances, and Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said of his team’s effort, “I loved it.”

After three whacks, Evgeni Malkin stuffed the puck across the goal line for the 4-3 OT winner. However, Jason Zucker appeared to suffer a severe injury in the second period. He was later shown to be in the locker room after the game, but there is no official word on his injury. He is not listed on IR as of publishing.

Update: Mike Sullivan said Zucker is still being evaluated. He will not play today.

Sullivan will speak to the media this afternoon and–knock on wood–have good news about Zucker, who has played just 85 games over parts of two-plus seasons with the Penguins.

Colorado leads the NHL with 102 points and is in the dreaded President’s Trophy lead, despite playing only 68 games.

The gritty Nazem Kadri, not Nathan MacKinnon, leads the Avalanche in scoring. Kadri has 83 points (26-57-83) in 65 games. Earlier this week, MacKinnon suffered a minor injury in a fight with Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba. He returned to the lineup Thursday night in the Avalanche’s 4-2 win over San Jose.

Kadri did not practice on Friday after taking a heavy hit on Thursday night. His status is day-to-day.

Colorado beefed up at the NHL trade deadline. They snagged defenseman Josh Manson from the Anaheim Ducks and winger Artturi Lehkonen from Montreal.

Tristan Jarry is the Penguins’ expected starter in net. Darcy Kuemper is likely for Colorado.

Pittsburgh Penguins Betting

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DraftKings also offers a $1000 risk-free bet on the NHL. Colorado is favored:

Moneyline: Penguins (+125), Avalanche (-155).

Puckline: Penguins +1.5 (-190), Colorado -1.5 (+160).

Bet Against Dan and Make Money Pick of the Day: 60-minute Line Penguins (+195). We like the Penguins against Western Conference teams. While we’re not sure if they’ll loosen up after the slobber knocker against Minnesota, they’ll see the President’s Trophy contender as a fun challenge and try to match them. Sidney Crosby vs. Nathan MacKinnon. Do you think Crosby will blow off this one? We’ll take the Penguins in regulation with the much bigger odds.

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Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines

LWCRW
Jake GuentzelSidney CrosbyBryan Rust
Rickard RakellEvgeni MalkinKasperi Kapanen
Jason ZuckerJeff CarterDanton Heinen
Brock McGinnTeddy BluegerEvan Rodrigues
LDRD
Mike MathesonKris Letang
Marcus PetterssonJohn Marino
Mark FriedmanChad Ruhwedel
Goalie
Tristan Jarry
Louis Domingue

Expected Avalanche Lines, per PuckPedia.com:

Nuchuskin-MacKinnon-Rantanen

Lehkonen-Kadri-Burakovsky

Newhook-Sturm-Compher

Cogliano-Helm-O’Connor

Defense:

Toews-Makar

Erik Johnson-Manson

MacDermid-Jack Johnson

Goalie: 

Darcy Kuemper

Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:

INJURIES: Brock McGinn, upper-body (10 consecutive, 13 total), Nathan Beaulieu, lower-body (6 consecutive, 6 total). 2021-22 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 247

*This is the Penguins’ first game against Colorado since January 2020 (a 4-3 Penguins OT win).

*The first goal will be telling. When scoring first, the Penguins are 30-4-2. The Colorado Avalanche are 36-2-4.

*When leading after the first period, Colorado is 28-1-0. The Penguins are 20-2-2.

*Special teams: Colorado PP (25.4%, 5th). PK (78.6%, 18th). Penguins PP (22.1%, 13th). PK (85.5%, 2nd).

*The Avs became just the fourth NHL club in the last 25 years to reach the 100-point mark in 67 games or fewer

*Darcy Kuemper ranks seventh in the league in wins (31), fifth in save percentage (.924), seventh in goals-against average (2.37), third in shutouts (5), and third in winning percentage (.756).

*The Penguins have points in nine of their last 13 games against the Avalanche (8-4-1) dating back to Apr. 6, 2014

*Three of Evgeni Malkin’s last six goals have been game-winning goals.

*John Marino set a new career-high in assists (23) following his two-assist outing Thursday night in Minnesota. He is two points shy of tying his career-high in points (26) set in the 2019-20 season

How to Watch:

TV: ABC, ESPN+; Radio: 105.9 The X

Announcers: Sean McDonough, Ray “Chicken Parm” Ferraro, Emily Kaplan / Conor McGahey

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Dorothy Tecklenburg
Dorothy Tecklenburg
1 month ago

How does our Man Games Lost compare the the rest of the league?

Steve
Steve
1 month ago

I haven’t mentioned him in a while, but given the physicality of the last game and likely in these home and home games with the Avs, I would like to see the Pens slot Angello in since Zucker is potentially out again.

Cal
Cal
1 month ago

Kind of odd that the best team in the league has Jack Johnson playing regular on the third defense pairing. That must drive the haters crazy. I’m going to keep an eye on McDermid. He is a big and mean free agent at the end of the year that plays multiple positions for the Avalanche….

Paul
Paul
1 month ago

It’s time for Zucker to take the hint and retire for his good and that of the team. Can’t afford to pay $5.5-million to a broken-down has-been in a salary cap league. And he has one season left on the deal. Just another yuge mistake in the Rutherford reign of error.

Last edited 1 month ago by Paul

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