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Desperate Avs host surging Penguins

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:50 AM

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Desperate Avs host surging Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Colorado Avalanche

PENGUINS (37-21-5) at AVALANCHE (33-28-4)

TV:
ROOT (HD), ALTITUDE (HD)

LAST 10:
Pittsburgh 7-2-1; Colorado 6-3-1

Season Series:
This is the second and final meeting of the season. The Penguins won 6-3 in Pittsburgh on Nov. 15.

Big Story:
The Penguins are pretty securely in the playoffs and looking to secure home-ice advantage in a first-round series as enter the final month of the season. The Avalanche, meanwhile, are in a battle for a playoff spot in the West.

Team Scope:

Penguins:
They are red-hot, winners of four straight and seven of nine. They're coming off a 4-3 shootout win in Dallas on Wednesday night, rallying from down a goal in the third period.

The win came at a cost, however. Defenseman Kris Letang took a hit from the Stars' Eric Nystrom that left him with concussion-like symptoms. It's the second time this season that Letang has dealt with concussion issues, and he won't play against the Avs because of it.

"It was a bad situation for Kris," coach Dan Bylsma told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "It's whether you've had one or a couple before. You're concerned for the player's health. He took a hard hit."

The Penguins are calling Letang day-to-day.

Avalanche:
They had every reason to bring their best Wednesday night against the Blue Jackets, the NHL's 30th-place team with nothing to play for but pride. The Avs had all the motivation in the world -- a win would have moved them into eighth place in the West.

Instead, the Avs played one of their worst games of the season, losing 2-0 at home.

"It's frustrating for sure," left wing Gabriel Landeskog said. "We definitely weren't ready to play. I don't know what the reason was, but we weren't sharp enough. We were chasing the game after the first period."

Before the loss, the Avs had won four straight.

Who's Hot:
Avs goaltender Semyon Varlamov hasn't allowed more than two goals in his last five starts. … Penguins star Evgeni Malkin had an outstanding February, posting 10 goals and 10 assists in 13 games.

Injury Report:
Besides Letang, Penguins forward Steve Sullivan is questionable for this game with a lower-body injury suffered against the Stars. Tyler Kennedy has been sidelined with a high ankle sprain. … Colorado's Chuck Kobasew suffered an injury in practice Wednesday and missed the Jackets game.

Stat Pack: The Penguins allowed just 2 power-play goals in 43 shorthanded situations in February. The Avs are 4-for-29 on the power play in their last 15 games. During that stretch, the Avs have 12 games in which they've received no more than two power-play opportunities.

Puck Drop:
"I liked the response from our team. We came out hard and played well in the third period." -- Bylsma on his team's comeback win vs. Dallas

2011-2012 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 03 '12PIT 5 at COL 1D. Engelland
Nov 15 '11COL 3 at PIT 6E. Malkin
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
E. Malkin57384280+1250108
J. Neal64303262+366133
C. Kunitz64182644+83352
P. Dupuis64152237+133205
S. Sullivan64132437-51450
J. Staal44211233+52850
K. Letang4092231+72243
M. Cooke64121527+02612
T. Kennedy4261622+22901
P. Martin5712021-41800
M. Niskanen6331518+74130
D. Engelland5841115+54901
B. Orpik5521214+143400
R. Park466713-31203
J. Vitale574913-34701
C. Adams644812-53200
A. Asham473912-46200
S. Crosby821012+7801
Z. Michalek44178-52200
C. O'Reilly33257-11410
D. Jeffrey25426-4200
S. Despres14134+4810
A. Picard17044+4400
B. Lovejoy28123+11300
J. Williams8112+1400
E. Tangradi17011-41200
M. Letestu11011-6200
C. Sneep1011+1000
S. MacIntyre11000+0400
R. Bortuzzo6000+1200
C. McDonald5000+0000
B. Strait1000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
M. Fleury5434-14-312214122.32.914
B. Johnson133-7-2352963.17.882
B. Thiessen11-0-02242.00.917
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
R. O'Reilly65163450+11243
G. Landeskog66182341+204143
P. Stastny63162541-62852
S. Downie61142135-812722
M. Hejduk65132134-91461
D. Jones56151328-32233
M. Duchene46131326-7852
J. McGinn63121224+02830
E. Johnson6042024-61911
K. Quincey5451823-16031
D. Winnik6351318-114200
J. Hejda6541216-142001
R. Wilson4511516+73300
J. McClement649615-102901
T. Galiardi558614-64702
S. O'Brien6121214-18710
C. Kobasew547613-104702
S. Elliott364711+3801
P. Mueller18527-1611
C. McLeod59426-414300
R. O'Byrne61156+04700
D. Van Der Gulik25156+3200
K. Porter32325-41500
J. Lindstrom16235-9010
M. Olver8224+2401
M. Hunwick17213-2200
B. Malone9022+1000
B. Yip10000+1800
T. Barrie4000-2000
E. Brophey3000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
S. Varlamov3918-19-210611342.76.907
J. Giguere3015-10-2637882.23.920