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.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Rickard Rakell||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jason Zucker||Jeff Carter||Danton Heinen|
|Brock McGinn||Teddy Blueger||Evan Rodrigues|
|Mike Matheson||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Mark Friedman||Chad Ruhwedel|
Expected Avalanche Lines, per PuckPedia.com:
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