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Penguins at Avalanche preview

Pittsburgh seeks fourth straight road win; Colorado opens five-game homestand

by Rick Sadowski / Independent Correspondent

PENGUINS (26-12-5) at AVALANCHE (25-15-4)



The Game

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

Matt Murray

Tristan Jarry

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

Pavel Francouz

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Mark Barberio

Injured: Joonas Donskoi (concussion protocol), Colin Wilson (lower body)


Status report

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.


Stat pack

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.

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