The Pittsburgh Penguins (2-4-0) are sputtering, having lost three in a row. Things won’t get easier Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena where the Penguins host one of the best teams in the NHL, the Colorado Avalanche (6-0-0). The unbeaten Avalanche were the 2022 Stanley Cup champions and featured two superstars playing on another level.
Penguins Game Time:
The Penguins game starts just after 7 p.m. (hooray, a 7 p.m. start time!)
How to Watch the Penguins Game:
TV: SportsNet Pittsburgh.
Radio: 105.9 The X
Also, follow our sister site, ColoradoHockeyNow, for Avalanche coverage.
Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon has seven points, including four goals in the first six games, but defenseman Cale Makar is lighting a path on the blue line not seen since Paul Coffee or Bobby Orr.
Makar, 24, has nine points and is a plus-7.
“He’s a special player,” conceded Penguins coach Mike Sullivan.
Colorado is a buzzsaw, and the struggling Penguins, who have lost three in a row, will have a stiff challenge. In succession, the Penguins lost to the Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, and Dallas Stars, though each had a different script. The comeback that fell short in Detroit, the sloppy performance in St. Louis, and the ice-cold offensive outburst followed by a third-period crumble against Dallas.
Evgeni Malkin leads the Penguins with eight points (4-4-8), followed by Jake Guentzel, who has seven points (1-6-7) but just one goal. Guentzel missed all of training camp after ankle surgery in early August but returned weeks ahead of schedule to begin the regular season.
Kingerski: The Penguins Need to Change, Badly
The Penguins have also made a few lineup changes this week. Radim Zohorna has sparked the third line. Ryan Shea and John Ludvig made their NHL debuts in each of the last two games, and the team recalled NHL veteran Vinnie Hinostroza from the WBS Penguins Thursday morning.
Hinostroza could replace Jeff Carter in the Penguins’ lineup and quickly slot onto the Penguins’ fourth line, where he played in the preseason. However, Hinostroza played Wednesday night with WBS and was not present at the morning skate.
According to Sullivan, Hinostroza was en route to Pittsburgh Thursday morning. He’ll take the warmup but is unlikely to play.
Magnus Hellberg, who was recalled Wednesday after the team placed Alex Nedeljkovic on LTIR, will back up Tristan Jarry. Colorado goalie Alexandar Georgiev has started each of Colorado’s six games this season. He has a 1.98 GAA and a .930 save percentage.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Bryan Rust
Reilly Smith-Evgeni Malkin-Rickard Rakell
Drew O’Connor-Lars Eller-Radim Zohorna
Matt Nieto-Noel Acciari-Jeff Carter
Ryan Graves-Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson-Erik Karlsson
Ryan Shea-Chad Ruhwedel
Expected Colorado Avalanche Lines
Artturi Lehkonen–Nathan MacKinnon–Valeri Nichushkin
Tomas Tatar–Ryan Johansen–Mikko Rantanen
Miles Wood–Ross Colton–Jonathan Drouin
Andrew Cogliano–Fredrik Olofsson–Logan O’Connor
Devon Toews–Cale Makar
Sam Girard–Bowen Byram
Jack Johnson–Josh Manson
Penguins Special Teams
Penguins Power Play: 12.5%, 23rd
Penguins Penalty Kill: 82.4%, 12th
Avalanche Power Play: 28.6%, 7th
Avalanche Penalty Kill: 92.6%, 4th
Penguins Game Notes
The Penguins have points in 11 of their last 17 games against the Avalanche (10- 6-1) dating back to Apr. 6, 2014.
The Penguins’ faceoff win percentage of 54.9% is tied for second in the NHL behind the New York Islanders (55.4%).
Colorado averages the most shots per game in the NHL (37.5), and the Penguins are second (35.0).
Defenseman P.O Joseph is waiting to appear in his 100th NHL game.
Good starts: The Penguins have allowed just two goals in the first period this season, which is tied with Boston and St. Louis for the fewest in the NHL.
Penguins Odds & Predictions:
The Avalanche are a solid favorite on the Moneyline (-130), and overtime is a +300. Oddsmakers like a one-goal game since it’s in Pittsburgh, but all of the arrows point to Colorado. Get the PointsBet $1000 in second chance bets promo. Click here.
It’s hard to steer money toward the Penguins, as much as I’d like to tell you things will turn around. Perhaps they will, but Colorado is wicked good, and this one feels like it could get ugly. Nathan MacKinnon and Miko Rantanen against a struggling Ryan Graves, or worse, getting some ice against the Penguins third pair, could be trouble.
The Penguins bets are high risk but high reward. If you’re feeling it, go for it. Snag the promo so you get the money back for another bet.
So far, 84% of the money at PointsBet is going on the Avs.