Penguins @ Avalanche
Pepsi Center – Denver, CO
9:30PM Eastern – AT&TSN | NBCSN
The Penguins round out the second half of a Western back-to-back as they tangle with the league’s leading scorer AND Nathan MacKinnon. They’ll look to keep their 5-game points streak alive and continue their assertion of dominance over the West after an impressive team effort that saw the first signs of life from the depths as the Penguins slipped out of Winnipeg with a character-building 4-3 comeback win.
2 of the 5 most prominent Nova Scotians take the ice to face off in what should be a fun one, and though the Penguins had to travel, the Avalanche are also on the back end of 2 games in 2 days as well, having bested the Predators 3-2 last night as well.
As you likely remember, the Penguins got a goal from Derek Grant that proved no shot on goal is a bad one to knot the game up in the third period before Zach Aston-Reese banged home a deflection off a hoper of a pass from Phil Kessel resulting in a game-winning goal more cathartic than the first bowel movement you have after Thanksgiving Weekend.
Casey DeSmith did enough to get the win, the top two lines held their own, and the boost they got from goals from Riley Sheahan’s tally along with the aforementioned pair of goals were enough for the Penguins to escape with a hard-fought win against one of the class teams in the Western Conference.
The Peng have posted an impressive 7-0-1 record in 8 games against the West, scoring 39 goals while allowing just 15.
Pearson – Malkin – Kessel
Aston-Reese – Brassard – Rust
Wilson – Sheahan – Grant
Dumoulin – Letang
Maatta – Riikola
Johnson – OhSexyBack
The Avs boast the league’s top two scorers and a very formidable top line as Gabriel Landeskog rides shotgun with Miiko Rantanen (1st in scoring with 40 points) and MacKinnon (2nd with 37 and also from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia). They aren’t to be trifled with.
The Avs have raced out to an impressive start, coming into tonight’s tilt with 32 points in 24 games and tied for the league’s second best goal differential at +22. Perhaps related, the Avalanche’s 89 goals are third-best in the league, while their 66 goals allowed are 6th best.
This is a two-way hockey team with two good goaltenders after having traded to acquire Philip Grubauer in the offseason. The acquisition of Grubauer seems to have sparked Semyon Varlamov to
be healthy play some pretty good quality hockey. The Pens will draw the former tonight and face off against the former Capitals’ backup.
The Penguins will need to be careful to stay out of the box, as the Avalanche boast a terrifying 32.1% conversion rate on their power play. That’s even better than Winnipeg’s second-best power play they tangled with last night.
LandesBabe – MacKinnon – Rantanen
Jost – Kerfoot – Wilson
Nieto – Soderberg – Calvert
Andrighetto – Compher – Bourque
Girard – Johnson
Zadorov – Cole
Barberio – Nemeth
Slide by the Avalanche.