Series (Game 1 of 1)

Pittsburgh leads 1-0

Game 1: Thursday, December 3rd

Avalanche 1

(15-9-6, 36 pts)

Penguins 4

(20-9-0, 40 pts)

7:30 PM ET, December 3, 2009

Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1 2 3 T
COL 1 0 01
PIT 1 0 34

S. Crosby (Penguins - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 1

E. Malkin (Penguins - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 3

B. Guerin (Penguins - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Avalanche-Penguins Preview


Sidney Crosby's hat trick two games ago wasn't much of a surprise, but the Pittsburgh Penguins got a reminder of how well things have been going lately when Mike Rupp repeated the feat Monday.

Perhaps they'll even be able to reverse their dismal history against the Colorado Avalanche.

The Penguins have two wins in 19 meetings with the Avalanche since the franchise moved to Colorado, an ugly track record they'll try to reverse Thursday night at Mellon Arena while looking for their eighth victory in the past 10 games.

Pittsburgh (19-9-0) began the season 12-3-0 before being held to three goals during a four-game losing streak from Nov. 5-12.

That stretch found the Penguins coping with some key injuries, but as players like Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar, Tyler Kennedy and Kris Letang have returned, so has the team's scoring touch. Pittsburgh has averaged 4.1 goals during a 7-2-0 stretch after torching the New York Rangers for 13 goals during a home-and-home series.

Crosby had his fourth career hat trick and two assists in an 8-3 rout Saturday at Mellon Arena, and had two goals and an assist Monday in Manhattan. The biggest shock was that the other three goals in the Penguins' 5-2 win came from Rupp, who scored three goals all of last season.

"It feels good that it comes in a win," said Rupp, whose eight goals are tied for second on the team with Malkin. "Nothing is worse than when a guy has an opportunity to get a hat trick and the team loses."

The Avalanche (15-8-6) almost let Florida find out what that would feel like Wednesday night. The Panthers' Stephen Weiss scored his team's first three goals before Colorado came roaring back, tying the score at 5-all when Matt Duchene and T.J. Galiardi beat Scott Clemmensen in the final minute.

But after a scoreless overtime, Weiss scored the only goal of the shootout to deal the Avalanche a 6-5 loss.

"It's tough," said Duchene, the third overall pick of the 2009 entry draft who had his second consecutive two-goal game. "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."

Like the Penguins, Colorado got off to an incredible start, going 12-3-2 through its first 17 games while conceding 2.1 goals per game. Since then, the Avalanche have fallen apart defensively, yielding an average of 4.1 goals in their past 12 and going 3-5-4.

Based on its history versus Pittsburgh, Colorado should feel pretty good about its chances Thursday. The Avalanche are 14-2-0 with three ties against the Penguins since moving from Quebec to Colorado before the 1995-96 season.

Colorado's David Jones had two goals and an assist when the clubs met Jan. 10 in Denver, a 5-3 Avalanche win despite Pittsburgh getting a goal and an assist from both Malkin and Crosby.

Unfortunately for Colorado, Jones won't be around for this season's meeting. The third-year winger, tied for second on the team with 10 goals, tore the ACL in his left knee Saturday against Minnesota and likely won't play again this season.

The Avalanche also could be without Milan Hejduk, the team leader with 11 goals, for a fourth straight game. Hejduk left Colorado's game Friday with a knee injury, though coach Joe Sacco said he was hopeful Hejduk could play Thursday.

Pittsburgh won its most recent home game against Colorado, 4-3, on Dec. 10, 2005.