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Game Day: Colorado Avalanche look to sweep the season series with the Penguins

The loss of Erik Johnson is going to have a huge impact on the Avalanche lineup

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche finish a quick homestand tonight as they look to sweep the season series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Avs are going to be in tough tonight as they’re going to be playing without their top defender. Erik Johnson plays more minutes per game than anyone else in the NHL and his absence from the lineup could end up being a catastrophe for Colorado.

Someone is going to have to step up in a big way. That someone is Tyson Barrie. He is going to have to log harder minutes that he’s used to and spend a lot of time against Pittsburgh's’ top lines.

The Penguins are coming off of a win Saturday night, but have lost three of their last five games and currently sit outside the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avs will have to get by without their best defenseman after Erik Johnson was suspended for two games.

Gabriel Landeskog scored his second hat trick of the season Saturday night but Nathan MacKinnon continues to be the catalyst for the Avs offense. He had three more points against the Lightning and now sits as one of only three players in the NHL who are averaging more than one primary point per game - Brad Marchand and Nikita Kucherov being the other two.

Coach Bednar will go back to the standard 12 forwards and 6 defenders while EJ is out.

The return of Alex Kerfoot should provide a spark to the Avs’ offense.

Projected lineup:

Starting goalie: Semyon Varlamov (10-8-1, .906 sv%)

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins come into Denver looking nothing like two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions. Pittsburgh sits ninth in the Eastern Conference and has one of the lower goal differentials (-9).

The Pens have been able to find secondary scoring and now they are without Patric Hornqvist who was sent home with an upper-body injury.

The team also got their starting goalie back last week and Matt Martin was expected to start tonight, but now it seems like he will be a game-time decision.

Add to that the fact that Dominik Simon is questionable for tonight’s game with an illness and the Pens might be ripe for the picking.

Projected Lineup:

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Conor Sheary

Carl Hagelin - Evgeni Malkin - Phil Kessel

Dominik Simon - Riley Sheahan - Bryan Rust

Josh Archibald - Carter Rowney - Ryan Reaves

Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang

Olli Maatta - Matt Hunwick

Ian Cole - Chad Ruhwedel

Starting Goalie: Matt Murray (12-8-1, .906 sv%)

How to Watch/Listen

As always the game will be on Altitude, puck drop at 7:00 pm MST.

You can also listen to the game with our friend Marc Moser on Altitude Sports Radio 950AM