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Penguins vs. Avalanche, Game 71: Lines, Notes & How to Watch



Colorado Avalanche

Two nights ago, the Pittsburgh Penguins were facing a team that is about to sit out the Stanley Cup playoffs for the sixth year in a row.

A team that was 0-4-1 in its previous five games, and was using a goaltender making his first start in the NHL.

At PPG Paints Arena.

And the Penguins lost.

Tonight, they will take on the defending Stanley Cup champions, a team that has won six games in a row has lost just five of its past 29 games in regulation (21-5-3).

All of which makes it seem unlikely that the Penguins will leave Ball Arena in Denver tonight with a point or two, especially when they’re mired in a four-game losing streak.

They will have plenty of incentive to upset the Avalanche when the teams meet at 8:08 p.m. Eastern, however.

Florida’s 6-3 loss to Philadelphia Tuesday night means the Penguins would hurdle the Panthers and reclaim the second wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference playoff field if they win tonight. A loss in overtime or a shootout would pull them even with Florida.

(With the regular season in its final few weeks, it’s worth noting that the Penguins likely would lose the first tiebreaker — regulation wins — to both Florida and the New York Islanders, who they trail by four points for the first wild-card spot. The Penguins have 25, Florida 31 and the Islanders 32.)

While the Penguins, who are missing center Nick Bonino and defensemen Jeff Petry, Marcus Pettersson, Jan Rutta and Dmitry Kulikov, aren’t likely to be terribly sympathetic, Colorado’s lineup has been savaged by injuries this season.

Colorado is closing in on 400 man-games lost, and is expected to be without the likes of Gabriel Landeskog, Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Cale Makar, defenseman Josh Manson and forwards Evan Rodrigues and Artturi Lehkonen, among others.

Rodrigues, who revived his career during two stints with the Penguins, is in the concussion protocol after absorbing a hit from Chicago defenseman Connor Murphy Monday.

One guy who has stayed reasonably healthy is center Nathan MacKinnon, who is on the short list of the NHL’s top players. He has put up 30 goals and 59 assists in 58 games.

MacKinnon has at least one point in each of his past 17 games at Ball Arena, and a 10-game goal-scoring streak there.

His linemate, Mikko Rantanen, is nearly as productive, with 47 goals — including a league-high 36 at even-strength — and 38 assists in 69 games.

Chances are that, despite their insistence that their focus primarily is on their own team’s performance, Mike Sullivan and his staff have seen a lot of MacKinnon and Rantanen on video.

And in their nightmares.

Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines











Expected Colorado Avalanche Lines











Special Teams

Penguins power play: 51 for 241, 21.2%, 15th in NHL (tied)

Penguins penalty-kill: 45 for 222, 79.7%, 16th in NHL

Avalanche power play: 54 for 218, 24.8%, 4th in NHL

Avalanche penalty-kill: 44 for 213, 79.3%, 17th in NHL

Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes

The Penguins called off their game-day skate, and plan to identify their starting goaltender and pass along any injury updates via an email to reporters about two hours before the game. Sullivan is not expected to speak with the media until after the game.

Evgeni Malkin has eight goals and 13 assists in 19 career games against Colorado. He needs one assist to reach 50 for the seventh time in his career and first since 2018-19.

The Penguins are 4-5-1 in March. They have not had a full calendar month this season in which their record was below .500.

Sidney Crosby’s next goal will make him the 10th player in NHL history to post 11 30-goal seasons with the same team. Alex Ovechkin of Washington has the league record of 17.

In part because of their four-game losing streak, the Penguins are being outscored, 227-223, this season.

Colorado’s lineup includes players from nine countries, tying Los Angeles for the most in the league.

The Avalanche have scored at least one power-play goal in eight consecutive games, tying their longest such streak of the season.

Colorado has gotten a league-high 183 points from defensemen this season.

The Avalanche are 12-6 in games decided after the third period. They are 7-3 in overtime and 5-3 in shootouts.

Colorado is 10-3-2 in its past 15 home games.

How to Watch


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