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Preview: Avalanche at Penguins, Game 9

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The Avalanche (7-1-0) travel to Pittsburgh (7-1-0) looking to shut down NHL points leader Sidney Crosby and lay the foundations of another winning streak.

Justin K. Aller

This one ought to be good folks. Both the Colorado Avalanche and Pittsburgh Penguins enter this game with 7-1-0 records. The Penguins are a perfect 5-0-0 on home ice, while the Avalanche are a perfect 4-0-0 on the road. Both teams hold goal differentials in the double digits: the Avalanche are 2nd in the NHL at +15 while and the Penguins 3rd at +12. Not only is this two very good teams going at it, but there will be some significant familiar faces tonight. Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon will have their first chance to take on summer training partner Sidney Crosby while the rest of the Avalanche will battle it out with former Avalanche winger Chuck Kobasew.

According to Adrian Dater at the Denver Post, Avalanche goalie J.S. Giguere will get the start in net, as coach Roy wants to give Semyon Varlamov a bit more rest before the Avalanche's upcoming home-stand. The Penguins are always a dangerous team offensively and have a tough building for visiting teams, so while starting the veteran goaltender isn't a bad idea, it is a bit surprising considering how well Varlamov has played so far. The biggest task for the Avalanche, however, will be shutting down the Penguins top line. Roy will surely try to match Paul Stastny and Gabriel Landeskog against the league's best center, but without last change Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene are sure to see tough minutes against Crosby and Co. Crosby has an unreal 7 goals and 17 points in his first 8 games this year, so shutting him down will be a tall task for the Avs, and likely the key to leaving Pittsburgh with 2 points in the standings.

This is the Avalanche's first nationally televised game of the season. Puck drops at 7:30 PM Eastern 5:30 PM Mountain on NBC Sports Network.

Avalanche Lines (projected):

O'Reilly - Duchene SLAP FIGHT!!! - Downie

Landeskog - Stastny - Tanguay

McGinn - MacKinnon - Parenteau

Cliche - Mitchell Bordeleau

Johnson - Hejda

Wilson - Guenin

Benoit - Sarich

Giguere
Varlamov

Scratches: Barrie, Holden

Suspensions: McLeod

Penguins Lines (projected):

Kunitz - Crosby - Dupuis

Jokinen - Malkin - Kobasew

Glass - Sutter - Adams

Zolnierczyk - Vitale - Engelland

Orpik - Martin

Scuderi - Niskanen

Maatta - Bortuzzo

Fleury

Zatkoff