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Steep Mountain; Penguins Game 70 vs. Avalanche: Lines, Notes & How to Watch



Colorado Avalanche

On paper, this is another mismatch for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who go up against the (mile) high-flying Colorado Avalanche Sunday in Denver.

Perhaps the matchup of hometown buds and superstars Sidney Crosby of the Penguins and Nathan MacKinnon of the Avalanche can serve as a point of interest.

The Penguins (30-30-9) aren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but in reality they are simply getting through the final few weeks of the season.

Colorado (45-20-5) has some big-time goals within reach, including the Presidents’ Trophy.

Game Time

The game starts a little after 2 p.m.

Penguins Preview

There have been so many missed and blown opportunities for the Penguins.

They have lost two straight to fall to .500 – 69 points in 69 games. That includes Friday’s 4-2 loss at Dallas, a club roughly on par with the Avalanche.

The Penguins are 3-9-1 over their past 13 games and, in case anyone is still watching the standings, are nine points out of an Eastern Conference playoff spot and 12 points out of third place in the Metropolitan Division, with many teams ahead of them in those races.

Leading scorer, captain and team heartbeat Sidney Crosby has the same stats as the club – 69 points in 69 games. That’s markedly better for an individual player than a team, of course.

Crosby on Sunday faces MacKinnon, his offseason workout partner and good friend who ranks second in the league with 119 points and has a 17-game point streak and has at least one point in all 33 of his team’s home games.

On the injury front, the Penguins will not get forward Jeff Carter back. He is day-to-day because of an unspecified injury that has kept him out of the past two games.

Defenseman Ryan Graves missed Friday’s game because of the impending birth of a child. He will not play Sunday.

Read more:

Kingerski: Dubas Mistake, Lesson Learned Crushed Penguins Season

Molinari: Penguins are Still in a Tight Race. Just Not That One

Colorado has won eight games in a row and 10 of its past 11. During the eight-game streak, the Avalanche are outscoring opponents 37-14, have gone 9 for 27 on the power play and have killed 19 of opponents’ 20 power plays.

Juggernaut much?

The Avalanche is very much in the hunt for every title conceivable – top spot in the overall league standings, the Western Conference and the Central Division.

Expected Penguins Lines

Drew O’Connor-Sidney Crosby-Bryan Rust

Michael Bunting-Evgeni Malkin-Rickard Rakell

Reilly Smith-Lars Eller-Valtteri Puustinen

Emil Bemstrom-Noel Acciari-Jesse Puljujarvi


P.O Joseph-Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson-Erik Karlsson

John Ludvig-Jack St. Ivany


Alex Nedeljkovic

Tristan Jarry

Expected Avalanche Lines

Valeri Nichushkin-Nathan MacKinnon-Mikko Rantanen

Artturi Lehkonen-Casey Mittlestadt-Jonathan Drouin

Miles Wood-Ross Colton-Zach Parise

Brandon Duhaime-Yakov Trenin-Andrew Cogliano


Devon Toews-Cale Makar

Samuel Girard-Josh Manson

Jack Johnson-Sean Walker


Alexandar Georgiev

Justus Annunen

Penguins Special Teams

Penguins power play: 14.6%, 29th

Penguins penalty kill: 80.6%, 12th

Avalanche power play: 25.0%, 7th

Avalanche penalty kill: 81.7%, 9th

Penguins Game Notes

The Penguins won the first meeting between the teams 4-0 at home Oct. 24 and have won three straight against Colorado.

A win Sunday would give the Penguins a season sweep for the second season in a row and their first four-game winning streak against the Avalanche since Dec. 3, 2009-March 3, 2012.

This is the 17th head-to-head matchup between the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby (8 goals, 11 points, plus-3) and Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon (6 goals, 15 points, minus-3).

The Penguins rank third in the NHL with 33.2 shots per game.

Michael Bunting has 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists) in 11 career games against Colorado.

Bryan Rust has seven points (4 goals, 3 assists) in his past six games against the Avalanche.

How to Watch

TV: SportsNet Pittsburgh (TNT nationally)

Radio: 105.9 FM The X

Also visit sister site Colorado Hockey Now