The Colorado Avalanche gave a game away against the dismal Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night, falling 2-0 in an uninspired effort.
They cannot afford to repeat that mistake against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins, who have won five of their last six games in dominating fashion. Led by the NHL's leading scorer Evgeni Malkin (8 G, 10 A in the past 10 games), the Penguins offense is firing on all cylinders and enjoying quality contributions throughout their roster. James Neal is having a career season with 30 goals in his first full season with Pittsburgh.
Unfortunately for the Penguins, they lost top defenseman Kris Letang indefinitely with a concussion. Letangsuffered the concussion in Wednesday's game against the Dallas Stars and joins captain Sidney Crosby on the injured reserve list.
For the Avalanche, they need to get better production from their top lines. Against Columbus, Ryan O'Reilly had one of his worst games of the season. Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny were also nearly invisible against the Blue Jackets. With a crucial back-to-back series looming against division rival Minnesota Wild, the Avalanche cannot afford to drop another home game.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere will get the start in net for Colorado, leaving Semyon Varlamov as the likely starter on Sunday night against Minnesota.
Puck drops at 7:00 p.m. MDT
For more coverage, visit our Avalanche blog Mile High Hockey and our Penguins blog Pensburgh.