NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Sunday, April 6th
(All times Eastern)
Pittsburgh Penguins (49-24-5) at Colorado Avalanche (50-21-6), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Two of the top teams from opposing conference will meet
Sunday in Denver, as the Colorado Avalanche host the Pittsburgh Penguins at
the Pepsi Center.
With 103 points, the Penguins have clinched a playoff spot and the
Metropolitan Division title. The club is locked into the East's second seed
after Boston clinched the conference's top spot with a win on Saturday.
Colorado, meanwhile, has 106 points, leaving it five behind St. Louis for both
the Central Division and Western Conference leads. The Avs also have clinched
a postseason berth and are three points ahead of Chicago for second place in
The Avalanche are coming off Saturday's impressive 4-0 victory in St. Louis,
giving Colorado six straight wins for the third time this season.
A big second period and 31 saves from Semyon Varlamov helped Colorado blank
the Blues for their 50th win of the season. Paul Stastny, Nathan MacKinnon and
Nick Holden scored in a span of less than 10 minutes in the second period
before the game turned chippy with a skirmish-filled third.
Varlamov earned his NHL-best 40th win to tie head coach Patrick Roy's single-
season franchise record.
"I just felt that we dominated them," Roy said.
Stastny added two assists in Colorado's sixth straight win, a run that matches
the club's season high. The Avs won six in a row twice earlier this season
from Oct. 2-15 and again from Oct. 19-Nov. 2.
The Avalanche also reached 50 wins for the second time in club history. Only
the Stanley Cup-winning 2000-01 squad registered more victories with 52.
Colorado boasts a 26-11-3 record at the Pepsi Center this season and is
playing its final home test of the regular season on Sunday. The Avs will
complete its schedule on a four-game road trip that begins Tuesday in
While Colorado will try to record its first seven-game winning streak since
taking eight in a row from Dec. 31-Jan. 17 during the 2005-06 campaign, the
Penguins are hoping to avoid losing for the sixth time in nine outings on
Pittsburgh was blanked Saturday in Minnesota, as Ilya Bryzgalov stopped all 20
shots in a 4-0 shutout victory for the Wild.
Jeff Zatkoff made 16 saves for the Penguins, who lost for the second time in
"We have to play the right way," Pens captain Sidney Crosby said. "We know
what that is. We've done a good job of it. It's just a matter of making sure
we find that urgency for the last bit."
The Penguins did play without several regulars, including Evgeni Malkin, who
is still sidelined with a foot issue. In addition, forward Jussi Jokinen
(upper body) and defenseman Olli Maatta (lower body) were on the sidelines.
The Pens expect to play with a short-handed roster again on Sunday.
Pittsburgh fell to 22-15-3 as the road team after Saturday's loss and the club
is completing a three-game swing on Sunday. The Pens will then close their
regular-season schedule on a three-game homestand.
The Avs and Penguins met on Oct. 21 in Pittsburgh and Colorado notched a 1-0
victory behind a 34-save shutout from Jean-Sebastien Giguere. That win halted
a four-game slide in the series for Colorado, and the Avs will try to snap a
two-game home losing streak against Pittsburgh on Sunday.
04/06 12:04:36 ET