Pens look to make it three in a row against Avs
AVALANCHE (15-8-6) at PENGUINS (19-9-0)
Last 10 --
Colorado 3-4-3; Pittsburgh 7-3-0.
Season series --
This is the lone meeting between the teams this season. David Jones had two goals an assist in Colorado's 5-3 win against the Pens on Jan. 10 at the Pepsi Center.
Big story --
You have to wonder if he'd get the start anyway since Colorado had to travel late Wednesday night, but the Avs may be forced to play without goaltender Craig Anderson, who was involved in a collision with Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Ballard during Wednesday's shootout loss at the BankAtlantic Center. Anderson was forced to leave the game.
Colorado certainly doesn't believe in moral victories, but the Avs did erase a two-goal deficit in the final minute of regulation on Wednesday night to earn a point in Florida. Rookies T.J. Galiardi and Matt Duchene both scored for Colorado with less than a minute left in regulation to send the game to overtime. Duchene had two goals on the night and now has eight this season.
''It's tough,'' Duchene said. ''You battle back so hard, you played so hard in the third and the second period. I think we maybe deserved a little better fate.''
Pittsburgh is sitting where most prognosticators figured they would both now and at the end of the season -- atop the Atlantic Division. The Pens will be looking for their third straight win on Thursday after sweeping a home-and-home series with the New York Rangers.
"It feels good that it comes in a win," forward Mike Rupp
said after notching a hat trick in Monday's 5-2 win at Madison Square Garden. "Nothing is worse than when a guy has an opportunity to get a hat trick and the team loses."
Who's hot --
Duchene is really starting to show what he is capable of accomplishing at the NHL level as the third pick in the 2009 Entry Draft has five goals in his last three games. … Sidney Crosby
dominated the Rangers on Saturday and Monday, as he had five goals and three assists in the two victories.
Injury report --
After laying on the ice for several minutes on Wednesday night, one has to believe Anderson is doubtful to play on Thursday, which means Peter Budaj would get the start for Colorado. Milan Hejduk has missed three straight games with a knee injury and Kyle Cumiskey (foot) has missed five in a row. David Jones (torn ACL) and Ruslan Salei (back) are on injured reserve. … Pens forward Chris Kunitz
is expected to miss another week with a lower-body injury, while defenseman Alex Goligoski
(lower body) is day-to-day.
Stat pack --
Crosby is on pace for a career season. The Pens' captain is off to his best start yet with 17 goals in his first 28 games. His hat trick last Saturday was the fourth of his career.
Puck drop --
Given how they lost on Wednesday and the fact that they flew from Fort Lauderdale to Pittsburgh after the game, this is an extremely difficult task for the Avalanche. If they can somehow come away with a point, one would think almost everyone in the organization would leave town satisfied.