Lack of scoring is a big reason for the Pittsburgh Penguins' current descent down the Eastern Conference standings.
The slumping Penguins will try for a rare win over the Avalanche in Denver when they meet on Saturday at the Pepsi Center.
In eight games since the Avalanche moved from Quebec following the 1994-95 season, Pittsburgh is 1-4-1 with two ties and hasn't won in Colorado since Feb. 25, 1999.
That hardly bodes well for a team that has had difficulty putting the puck in the net recently despite the presence of All-Star starters Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Pittsburgh hasn't scored more than three goals in game since a 4-3 win over Buffalo on Dec. 22 had the Penguins in seventh place in the East with an 18-11-4 record. But in nine games following that outburst, Pittsburgh has scored only 14 goals en route to a 2-7-0 mark.
The Penguins (20-18-4) begin play on Saturday tied with Florida for ninth in the conference.
Petr Sykora (4 goals) and Ruslan Fedotenko (3) have accounted for the bulk of the scoring while Crosby has found the back of the net twice and Malkin has been shut out during Pittsburgh's slump. Fedotenko, though, is expected to miss four to six weeks with a broken right hand suffered Tuesday against Atlanta.
Malkin led Pittsburgh with 47 goals in 2007-08, but has just 15 this season and hasn't scored in career-high 10 straight games. He leads the league with 48 assists and 63 points, and has one assist in his only career game against Colorado.
Sykora, Jordan Staal and Max Talbot helped the Penguins jump out to a 3-0 lead early in the second period on Thursday against Nashville, but the Penguins fell 5-3.
"We didn't deserve to win the hockey game," said Crosby, who has two goals and an assist in two games versus the Avs. "You can't cut corners and for us we didn't play well enough throughout the whole game."
Making matters more difficult for the Penguins will be trying to beat goaltender Andrew Raycroft, a former rookie of the year who is enjoying a resurgence with Colorado (21-19-1).
Winner of the Calder Trophy five years ago, Raycroft totaled 47 wins with Boston and Toronto from 2005-08 before signing with the Avalanche in July. He's given up 12 goals while winning his last six starts, and is 8-1-0 with a 2.53 goals-against average so far.
On Thursday, he stopped a career-high 43 shots as the Avalanche topped Chicago 2-1.
"You've got to give him credit for staying mentally sharp and ready to play," Colorado head coach Tony Granato told the Avalanche's official Web site. "Every time we've asked him to come in and play well he's done it."
Raycroft is 6-2-1 with a 3.06 GAA in nine career starts versus Pittsburgh.
"Pittsburgh is a similar team to Chicago, so we have to play the same as we did Thursday," he said.
Ryan Smyth had a goal and assist against the Blackhawks, and needs three goals for 300 in his career. He's scored only three goals in 15 games versus the Penguins, but has five assists in a four-game streak.