The Colorado Avalanche returns home on Friday to begin a five-game homestand as the team faces the Pittsburgh Penguins at Pepsi Center.
The Avs are returning from a three-game East Coast road trip. They opened the road swing with a 5-2 win at the New Jersey Devils on Saturday and then fell 1-0 to the New York Islanders on Monday and 5-3 to the New York Rangers on Tuesday in a back-to-back in the Big Apple.
J.T. Compher scored two of the three goals on Tuesday, his first multi-goal game of the year and the fourth time he has tallied twice in an outing in his career. Andre Burakovsky also recorded two assists on Tuesday, marking the third time this season he's notched multiple assists in a contest.
The Penguins are coming off of a 4-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday. Pittsburgh never trailed against Vegas, scoring twice in the first period and once in both the second and third to secure the win.
This is the second and final meeting between the Avs and Penguins this season after Colorado fell 3-2 in overtime in the first outing on Oct. 16 in Pittsburgh, the Avalanche's first loss of the season.
Avalanche vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Pepsi Center | Denver, Colo.
Colorado blueliner Ian Cole was a member of Pittsburgh from 2015-2018 and won back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Penguins in 2016 and 2017… Avs center Nathan MacKinnon and Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby are both from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, and train together in the offseason… Andrew Agozzino spent parts of six seasons with the Avalanche organization (2012-2016, 2017-2019) and recorded five points (one goal, four assists) in 21 NHL games… Joseph Blandisi was selected by Colorado in in the sixth round of the 2012 NHL Draft.
The Avs own a 42-36-11 all-time mark against the Penguins, including a 20-16-4 record as the home team. The two teams have faced off once already this season on Oct. 16 in Pittsburgh, leading to a 3-2 Colorado loss in overtime. Nathan MacKinnon scored in the third period to tie the game and send it to extra minutes. Pittsburgh's Brandon Tanev found the back of the net for a shorthanded goal in overtime to win the game and deal the Avs their first loss of the campaign.
Vladislav Kamenev is expected to return to game action after practicing on a line with J.T. Compher and Tyson Jost on Thursday. With Joonas Donskoi in concussion protocol, a trio of Andre Burakovsky, Nazem Kadri and Valeri Nichushkin skated together during the session.
Joonas Donskoi is in concussion protocol after enduring a hard hit against the New York Rangers on Tuesday… Colin Wilson (lower body) is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery.
SCOUTING THE PENGUINS
Pittsburgh is tied for second place (New York Islanders) in the Metropolitan Division with a 26-12-5 record and 57 points this season. The Penguins have a plus-30 goal differential after 43 games to rank third in the league (tied), with 146 goals for and only 116 goals against. Goaltender Tristan Jarry leads the league in goals-against average (2.04), save percentage (.934 percent) and shutouts (3-tied). Pittsburgh registers an average of 33 shots per game to tie with the Avs for eighth in the NHL and scores 3.35 goals per game, tied for rank seventh in the league. The Penguins arae 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and 6-3-1 in their last 10 road games.
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: Evgeni Malkin
Evgeni Malkin is currently the second-leading point-getter for the Penguins, having registered 40 points (12 goals, 28 assists) in 30 games this season. He is tied for third on his team with a plus-14 rating and leads Pittsburgh by scoring 1.33 goals per game. Malkin has notched 30 even-strength points (10 goals, 20 assists) this season to rank second on the Penguins, and his 10 power-play points (two goals, eight assists) put him in a tie for first on his team.
Malkin was the Penguins' first round pick (No. 2 overall) in the 2004 draft. He made his NHL debut during the 2006-07 campaign and is currently playing his 14th season with Pittsburgh. Malkin has notched 1042 points (403 goals, 639 assists) in his 882 career games. In 15 outings versus Colorado, he has registered 16 points (seven goals, nine assists).
The Avalanche leads all teams in the league with 51 first-period goals. Colorado has won 19 games when scoring the first tally of the game (19-5-3), tied for the second-most wins when scoring first behind St. Louis (20).
The Avs have two players in the top 10 for plus-minus ratings this season. Blueliners Ryan Graves (plus-30) and Ian Cole (plus-22) both have yet to be minus in more than two straight games this season.
The contest against the Penguins is expected to be Samuel Girard's 200th career NHL game. He has registered 73 points (nine goals, 64 assists) so far, including nine assists in his last five games. This season, he has 23 total points (one goal, 22 assists) in 44 contests.
The Avs are 11-4-2 this season against Eastern Conference opponents… The five-game homestand is tied for the Avs' longest of the season (also Feb. 11-19)… The Avalanche ranks second in the league with 3.61 goals per game and its 159 goals for are tied for third in the NHL… Valeri Nichushkin is one assist away from tying his total from last year (10)… The Avs have recorded 30 or more shots in each of their last nine games… Colorado will also host the Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings in this homestand.