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NHL Preview: Colorado Avalanche vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

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Avalanche Face Penguins For Second Time in a Week

On Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, PA, the Colorado Avalanche and Pittsburgh Penguins will face off for the second and last time this regular season. Both teams faced each other a week ago in Denver. The Avalanche won that game, 6-3, which saw Sidney Crosby score for the first time in over 3,000 days in Denver, by recording a natural hat trick. “The Rocky Mountain Line” of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog notched 8 total points for the Avs in the victory.

Avalanche Continue Road Trip in Pittsburgh

The Avalanche are in the midst of a four-game road trip. On Sunday, the team posted a 2-0 win in a feisty, old-school hockey game against the Detroit Dead Wings… I mean Red Wings. That game saw many skirmishes and retaliatory hits. The game was reminiscent of a rivalry from the early 2000’s when the Avalanche and Red Wings were in the same conference. As a result of his unsportsmanlike actions against Avalanche forward Matt Calvert during the loss, Red Wings forward, Tyler Bertuzzi, received a two-game suspension. Many fans are saying his punishment isn’t enough to curtail players sucker punching players on the ice from the bench.

The teams meet again, March 5th in Denver where I expect fireworks in the form of fights and retaliatory checks.

After tonight’s game, the team will travel to Florida to play the Panthers on Thursday, wrapping up the 4 game road trip on Saturday in Tampa Bay.

Last Time Out

The Avalanche won on Sunday in Detroit, whereas the Penguins fell at home 4-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Penguins have been sorely missing starting net minder, Matt Murray, who is still listed on the teams injured reserve with a lower body injury. Their team record of 10-10-5 is evidence of his absence. They have been relying on Casey DeSmith and Tristan Jarry who have a combined 59 games played between the two.

Ian Cole and the Return of Tyson Barrie

Avalanche defender Ian Cole will be a player to watch tonight. He makes his return to Pittsburgh after winning two Stanley Cups in 4 years with the Penguins. He has become a catalyst in his first year as a stay at home defender with the Avalanche, leading the league in blocked shots with 79. I wrote about his trade to the team and three-year deal he signed in the offseason with the Avalanche, here.

Tonight will also mark the return of Tyson Barrie will also be making his return to the defensive-six. He has missed the last four games with an undisclosed lower body injury. The team has found ways to win and score goals in his brief absence, but his prowess on the power play is undeniable.

“It’s exciting, obviously nobody likes to miss time and four games felt like a lot longer than that, so it’s nice to get healthy and get back in the lineup,” Barrie said after morning skate. “A good one tonight against Pittsburgh, it will be fun.”

Sidney Crosby vs. Nathan MacKinnon

Both Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon are from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, and they train together in the offseason. When they get together for regular season hockey games, the games are exciting, fast-paced, and filled with skill. They only play each other twice a year, so the games are worth the watch. A week ago, Sidney Crosby scored a natural hat trick while Nathan MacKinnon recorded 4 points.

Keys to the Game

Pittsburgh (-134) is favored to win the game at the time of this article being written, with over/under for goals scored at 6.5. Look for each team to score at least 3 goals apiece. The key for the Penguins will be to stay out of the penalty box, where the Avalanche have excelled this season. For the Avalanche, if the top trio of MacKinnon, Rantanen and Landeskog register points tonight, there is a good chance the team’s streak of points in consecutive games grows to 12.

Social Media

Follow Sean on Twitter: @O303C

Photo Credit

Photo Courtesy of: Carpe Diem Events

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