Avalanche goaltender Andrew Raycroft is coming off a career night. He made a career-high 43 saves against Chicago, earning his sixth consecutive victory which ties a personal best. Raycroft will get the start again on Saturday afternoon against the Penguins.
“Fortunately I got a chance to play,” commented Raycroft after the Avalanche’s practice on Friday. “I’m just trying to win games and help contribute to the team.”
Raycroft improved to 8-1-0 on the season, becoming just the second netminder in franchise history to open a season by winning eight of his first nine decisions.
“You’ve got to give him credit for staying mentally sharp and ready to play,” said Avalanche head coach Tony Granato. “Every time we’ve asked him to come in and play well he’s done it. His attitude has been outstanding and everybody likes playing with him.”
“He’s been playing unbelievable,” said Avs defenseman Brett Clark. “He’s making the first save and we’re doing the rest. To see him from the start of the year to where he is now, it’s great to see.”Hot Hand
Wojtek Wolski is on a hot streak of his own. The Avs winger has tallied three goals, including two game winners, and one assist over his last two games.
“Wolski’s been great,” said Granato. “He’s enjoying the switch to center and he’s certainly making the most of his opportunities.”Bring on the Penguins
The Avalanche will face the Penguins for the only time this season on Saturday. The Avs will have their hands full with offensive powerhouse Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who leads the league in points (63) and assists (48).
The teams met once last season when the Avs came away with a 3-2 win at Pepsi Center on Nov. 1, 2007. John-Michael Liles scored one of three Avalanche goals in the second period to offset Crosby’s two-score game.
“Pittsburgh is a similar team to Chicago, so we have to play the same as we did Thursday," Raycroft said. “We have to limit their power-play chances and cash in on ours.”
Much like the Avalanche, Pittsburgh is also in a tight battle for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. Its 44 points has the team just one point out of playoff position.
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Ryan Smyth scored the 297th goal of his career against the Blackhawks Thursday, putting him just three short of the 300-mark. Milan Hejduk
is just two goals shy of 300.