PENGUINS (7-1-0) vs. AVALANCHE (7-1-0)
Season series: This is the first of two meetings between the Colorado Avalanche and Pittsburgh Penguins. In their most recent matchup, on March 3, 2012, the Penguins won 5-1 at Pepsi Center behind a 35-save performance from Marc-Andre Fleury.
Big story: This could be the game of the week, as a pair of one-loss teams square off. It's no surprise the Penguins are battling for the NHL's best record, but the Avalanche have opened eyes around the League. It's also the first time Cole Harbour natives Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon will face each other. Crosby and MacKinnon were each selected with the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft, eight years apart.
Avalanche: Four road games, four victories for Colorado following Saturday's 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres. The Avalanche swept a three-game trip earlier this month, including a shutout of the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins.
In beating the Sabres, they were able to bounce back from their only loss so far, 4-2 to the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. Top-six forwards Ryan O'Reilly, Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny all scored, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 28 saves for his second win in as many starts.
"[Duchene and O'Reilly] have been dominant, to be honest with you," coach Patrick Roy said. "What I like about them is the consistency that they're bringing every night. That's a good sign of maturity. They start to get mature and they show a lot of poise and good things out there."
Penguins: While its opponent Monday has yet to taste defeat on the road, Pittsburgh is enjoying the home cooking in the early going. In five games at Consol Energy Center this season, the Penguins have five victories. The latest was a 4-3 shootout thriller over the Vancouver Canucks in a Saturday matinee.
The Penguins yielded the go-ahead score with 7:10 remaining in the third period, but drew even again 22 seconds later on the first goal of defenseman Olli Maatta's NHL career. Evgeni Malkin then connected in the third round of the penalty-shot tiebreaker.
"I think as a group, we're finding ways to win," said captain Sidney Crosby, who had a goal and two assists. "Today wasn't our best game, but [Fleury] shut the door when we needed him to and we found some ways to get back in the game and get a great goal from [Malkin] in the shootout. We still want to get better."
Who's hot: Duchene has six goals in eight games for the Avalanche. Landeskog has goals in consecutive games. … Crosby is off to the best start of his career for the Penguins, with an NHL-best 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) during an eight-game point streak. Malkin has three goals and five assists during a six-game point streak. Pascal Dupuis has two goals and five assists during a five-game point streak. Chris Kunitz has three goals and five assists during a four-game point streak.
Injury report: Colorado is healthy, though forward Cody McLeod is suspended pending an in-person disciplinary hearing with the NHL on Monday for a hit on Niklas Kronwall of the Red Wings on Thursday. … Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang (lower body) and forward Matt D'Agostini (lower body) have been practicing with the team. Forwards James Neal (upper body) and Beau Bennett (lower body) have also been sidelined.