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Penguins at Avalanche Preview: Uphill Climb

The Pens ride their four-game losing streak into the path of an Avalanche.

Pittsburgh Penguin Sidney Crosby vs. Colorado Avalanche Nathan MacKinnon
Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have dropped four games in a row and are playing at their worst performance levels of the season just in time to face a Colorado Avalanche team on a seven-game win streak.

The Avs are on a heater. The Pens couldn't be colder. It's a tale of two polar opposite teams.

After losing on Monday to the Senators the Pens have fallen out of a playoff position too:

NHL Eastern Conference Playoff Standings
Standings by

Looking ahead to Colorado, the Penguins are just over 50/50 at Ball Arena in their last 10 games played there vs the Avalanche at 6-4-0.

This game will be a major uphill battle on a snowy, Avalanche-filled cliffside. At a time when Every game from here on out is going to be a fight for the Pens' playoff lives as they try to scrape back into postseason positioning.

Tonight's particular battle will be broadcast in front of a national audience on TNT with puck drop scheduled for 8 PM.

Game Info:

Pens Game #71: Pittsburgh Penguins at Colorado Avalanche

Date: March 22, 2023

Time: 8 PM (ET)

Place: Denver, CO

Venue: Ball Arena

Social Media Hashtags #: #LetsGoPens #GoAvsGo

Broadcast Info:

National Broadcast: TNT

Canadian Broadcast: SN, TVAS

Online Stream: ESPN+

Penguins Radio: 105.9 The X/Penguins Radio Network

Avalanche Radio: Altitude SportsRadio

Team Matchup:

Records- PIT: 34-26-10, COL: 41-22-6

Last 10- PIT: 4-5-1, COL: 7-2-1

Streaks- PIT: 4 Losses, COL: 6 Wins

Standings- PIT: 17th, COL: 10th

Points- PIT: 78, COL: 88

Playoff Positions-

PIT: Eastern Conference #9, 1 point out of 2nd Wildcard playoff spot.

COL: Western Conference #4, 2nd Central Division playoff spot.

Season Series- 1-0 PIT

Series Goals For- PIT: 2 (Rust, Letang), COL: 1 (MacKinnon)

Team Analytics Comparison:

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Colorado Avalanche
Analytics by JFresh Hockey.

Goalie Matchup:

Projected starting goalies:

-Tristan Jarry- #35

[Pittsburgh Penguins]

Bio Info: 6' 2", 194 lbs. DOB: 4/29/1995 (27). From: Surrey, BC.

Drafted: 2013- Rd 2, Pk 44 (PIT). Experience: 7th Season.

Record: 20-10-6, 3.01 GAA, .907 SV%

Career vs. COL: 0-4-0, 3.58 GAA, .884 SV%


-Alexandar Georgiev- #40

[Colorado Avalanche]

Bio Info: 6' 1", 178 lbs. DOB: 2/10/1996 (27). From: Ruse, Bulgaria.

Drafted: Undrafted. Experience: 6th Season.

Record: 32-14-5, 2.53 GAA, .920 SV%

Career vs. PIT: 3-3-1, 4.20 GAA, .883 SV%

Penguins Update:

P.O. Joseph and Mark Friedman were the defensemen added to the Pens' PK units in place of Marcus Pettersson, and Kris Letang. Letang was taken off the PK presumably due to the increased minutes he's facing with fellow top six defensemen Pettersson and Jeff Petry out injured.

Sidelined defenseman Jeff Petry skated individually after Pens practice on Tuesday. A timetable for his return is still unknown.

Milestone Watch: Sidney Crosby is one goal shy of 30. When he hits it that will make his 11th season of 30 or more goals. It's a feat that only 19 other players in NHL history have managed to achieve. Crosby will also tie Mario Lemieux for the most 30-plus goal seasons in team history with the next one.

Bryan Rust meanwhile is two points away from hitting 40 points on the season, which would be his fourth straight 40 point session.

-Injury Report-

-Nick Bonino (F): LTIR, lacerated kidney, out until 4/4.

-Dmitry Kulikov (D): LTIR, lower body, out until 4/6.

-Jeff Petry (D): upper body, undisclosed.

-Marcus Pettersson (D): LTIR, lower body, week-to-week.

-Jan Rutta (D): lower body, week-to-week.

-Pens Lines-

The projected Penguins lines for Wednesday, March 22, 2023, at the Colorado Avalanche:

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Rickard Rakell

Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust

Danton Heinen - Ryan Poehling- Mikael Granlund

Drew O’Connor - Jeff Carter - Josh Archibald


P.O. Joseph - Kris Letang

Brian Dumoulin - Chad Ruhwedel

Mark Friedman - Taylor Fedun

(Special Teams)

PP1: Letang, Malkin, Crosby, Rakell, Guentzel

PP2: Joseph, Zucker, Rust, Granlund, Carter

PK1: Poehling, Rust, Dumoulin, Ruhwedel

PK2: Granlund, Archibald, Friedman, Joseph

Avalanche Update:

This is the first meeting between these teams since the controversial blindside hit by the Penguins' Jeff Center on Av's franchise defenseman Cale Makar. Makar sustained a concussion in that and was sidelined for much of late February and early March due to the blow. Carter received no supplementary discipline in a move that was widely decried around the league. The possibility for some carryover from that incident remains for tonight's game. Makar has dealt with a string of injuries since that hit and missed the Avs' last game with a lower-body problem.

Former Penguin Evan Rodrigues (F) is sidelined for the Avalanche as well after being concussed in their game on Monday. Colorado currently only has 11 forwards on their team so they will likely need to make an emergency player recall today to fill a full roster for this game. They have the ability to do so freely without cap implications because as you can see below, they're dealing with significant injury issues overall.

-Injury Report-

-Pavel Francouz (G): lower body, out indefinitely.

-Darren Helm (F): IR, lower body, day-to-day.

-Erik Johnson (D): IR, ankle, day-to-day.

-Gabriel Landeskog (F): LTIR, knee, out for 2022-23.

-Artturi Lehkonen (F): broken finger, 4-6 weeks.

-Cale Makar (D): lower body, day-to-day.

-Josh Manson (D): lower body, out until April.

-Evan Rodrigues (F): concussion, day-to-day.

For The Penguins: Rickard Rakell. "Ricky Raks" has been the only Penguin consistently scoring of late. He's registered three goals in the last five games including the lone marker against Ottawa. Overall he has five points in the last five games played. Rakell has proven to be one Pen the team can count on in these rough times.

For The Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon. Nate is still being great out in the Mile High City. Sidney Crosby's protege is doing his mentor proud by currently riding a nine-game point streak. He's posted 10 points in the last five games alone. MacKinnon also scored the only goal for Colorado in the first meeting between these teams this year so be prepared to see Macca be problematic for the Penguins once again.


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