PENGUINS (26-12-5) at AVALANCHE (25-15-4)
9 p.m. ET; ESPN+, SN, TVAS, ALT, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV
The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to win their fourth straight road game when they play the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Friday.
The Penguins have outscored opponents 12-7 during their three-game road winning streak. They opened a three-game trip Tuesday with a 4-3 win against the Vegas Golden Knights. Pittsburgh is 5-1-1 in its past seven games overall, 9-2-1 in its past 12 and 12-3-1 in its previous 16.
Pavel Francouz will start in goal for the Avalanche, who begin a five-game homestand after losing 1-0 at the New York Islanders on Monday and 5-3 at the New York Rangers on Tuesday. Colorado is 3-6-1 in its past 10 games after going 9-1-1 in its previous 11.
Players to watch
Penguins forward Bryan Rust has 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in his past 13 games.
Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon has nine points (four goals, five assists) in his past five games.
They said it
"Sid's going through a rehab process. The nature of this injury, it's an evolving process. Part of that process is introducing him to the team environment. And then obviously we see how he responds to the team environment and the medical staff makes decisions accordingly." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan on center Sidney Crosby, who will miss his 27th game while recovering from core muscle surgery
"It's a big homestand. We have to make sure we get back to winning ways here and get some points and put this 3-6-1 in the rearview mirror and make sure that we move on and get back to winning hockey games before the [NHL All-Star] break." -- Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog
Penguins projected lineup
Dominik Kahun -- Evgeni Malkin -- Bryan Rust
Dominik Simon -- Jared McCann -- Patric Hornqvist
Zach Aston-Reese -- Teddy Blueger -- Brandon Tanev
Alex Galchenyuk -- Andrew Agozzino -- Sam Lafferty
Jack Johnson -- Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson -- John Marino
Juuso Riikola -- Chad Ruhwedel
Scratched: Joseph Blandisi, Kevin Czuczman
Injured: Nick Bjugstad (core muscle surgery), Sidney Crosby (core muscle surgery), Brian Dumoulin (ankle surgery), Jake Guentzel (shoulder surgery), Justin Schultz (lower body)
Avalanche projected lineup
Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen
Andre Burakovsky -- Nazem Kadri -- Valeri Nichushkin
Matt Nieto -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- Matt Calvert
Vladislav Kamenev -- Tyson Jost -- J.T. Compher
Ryan Graves -- Cale Makar
Samuel Girard -- Erik Johnson
Ian Cole -- Nikita Zadorov
Scratched: Mark Barberio
Injured: Joonas Donskoi (concussion protocol), Colin Wilson (lower body)
Crosby didn't take part in an optional morning skate with forwards Bjugstad, Blandisi, and defensemen Czuczman and Schultz. Pittsburgh's captain hasn't skated since Wednesday. … Donskoi skated before the Avalanche held their morning skate. The forward was injured Tuesday against the Rangers, and there is no timetable for his return.
Malkin has 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in his past 13 games. … Letang needs one assist for 400 in the NHL, and Johnson needs one point for 300. … Girard has nine assists in his past five games. He will play his 200th NHL game.