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Penguins vs. Avs Game 50, Badly Need Wins: Lines, Notes & How to Watch

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Pittsburgh Penguins game, vs Colorado Avalanche

The Pittsburgh Penguins (24-16-9) badly need wins. Badly. The team hit the NHL All-Star break with three wins in nine games and a boiling frustration. Their nearest playoff pursuers are improving and gaining ground. They host the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche (27-18-3) Tuesday at PPG Paints Arena.

The puck drops just after 7 p.m.

The Penguins need to wash away the sour taste that accumulated. A good start and result are paramount lest building worries and frustrations again surround the team.

Sullivan has tinkered with his top six again. He flipped Rickard Rakell to the top line with Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust to play with Evgeni Malkin.

Casey DeSmith will start in goal for the Penguins. He, too, must erase a sour taste. After a 43-save performance against the Washington Capitals, he was blitzed for five goals by the San Jose Sharks in the final game before the break.

GM Ron Hextall echoed coach Mike Sullivan’s assessments of DeSmith when he admitted the goalie has been inconsistent.

Kasperi Kapanen and Josh Archibald are expected to be in the Penguin lineup. Kapanen confirmed to reporters that he would play.

The game will also be the return of Evan Rodrigues to Pittsburgh. Rodrigues played over two seasons with the Penguins after being acquired with Conor Sheary for Dominik Kahun at the 2020 NHL trade deadline.

This season, Rodrigues has 11 goals and 26 points in 37 games.

And it’s the battle of the Nova Scotia boys, Sidney Crosby vs. Nathan MacKinnon. Both very much enjoyed each other’s Stanley Cup victory celebrations, including a few libations.

Pittsburgh Penguins Playoff Chase

The playoff chase is a little clouded because of a disparity in games played. The Penguins and New York Islanders, who just acquired Bo Horvat, are tied with 57 points, but the Penguins have played four fewer games. In theory, the Penguins could have as much as an eight-point lead on New York.

The Penguins also have four games in hand on Florida, which is just one point behind.

The Penguins’ closes pursuer is the Buffalo Sabres. The Penguins are one point ahead of Buffalo for the final wild-card spot and have just one game in hand on Buffalo.

The Penguins are three points behind the Washington Capitals for the first wild-card spot but have four games in hand.

 Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines:

Guentzel-Crosby-Rakell

Zucker-Malkin-Rust

McGinn-Carter-Kapanen

Poehling-Blueger-Archibald

Defense:

Dumoulin-Letang

Pettersson-Petry

Joseph-Ruhwedel

Goalie:

DeSmith

Expected Avalanche Lines, per Colorado Hockey Now:

Artturi Lehkonen – Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen

Matt Nieto – J.T. Compher – Denis Malgin

Evan Rodrigues – Alex Newhook – Logan O’Connor

Kurtis MacDermid – Ben Meyers – Andrew Cogliano

Defense

Devon Toews – Cale Makar

Samuel Girard – Erik Johnson

Andreas Englund – Brad Hunt

Goalies

Pavel Francouz (first off)

Special Teams:

Penguins Power Play: 22.7%, 14th

Penguins Penalty Kill: 81.1%, 9th

Avalanche Power Play: 24.5%, 8th

Avalanche Penalty Kill: 76.8%, 20th

Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:

It’s been an even battle in the Crosby vs. MacKinnon era. The Penguins have points in nine of their last 15 games against the Avalanche (8-6-1) dating back to April 6, 2014.

The Penguins are currently 7-1-0 versus Central Division opponents.

Jake Guentzel has a five-game point streak (3-4-7) versus the Avalanche dating back to Nov. 28, 2018.

Evgeni Malkin currently sits four points shy of 1,200 in his career. When he accomplishes this feat, he will become just the third Penguin in franchise history to do so. Malkin will also be the fourth active player in the league to reach 1,200 career points among active players behind Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Patrick Kane.

Sidney Crosby has a season-high seven-game point streak (3-9-12)

How to Watch:

TV: AT&T SportsNet; Radio: 105.9 The X

Penguins Bets:

The return of “Bet Against Dan and Make Money.” Here’s our recommendation for Tuesday–Take the DraftKings promo. Bet $5 on either team (this game really is a pick ’em), and get the $200 bonus for the Super Bowl. Easy peasy. Click here.

Some daring bets — the Penguins are +220 to cover the 1.5 puck line.

Jake Guentzel is a +1100 to score a goal — We like that bet.

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