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Penguins Face Tough Test Against Avalanche in Midst of Road Trip

Evgeny Malkin NHL Hockey Betting Preview Pittsburgh Penguins vs Colorado Avalanche

The Pittsburgh Penguins (26-12-5) continue a three-game West Coast road trip on Friday when they visit the Colorado Avalanche (25-15-4) in a matchup between two of the league’s most impressive teams. The Penguins have overcome key injuries to battle for one of the top spots in the Metropolitan Division while the Avalanche have been one of the best in the West in challenging the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in the Central.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Colorado Avalanche

Opening Odds Analysis

Bettors are backing Colorado in early action, moving the home team up to -155 at many sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. That will likely continue leading up to puck drop unless news breaks regarding the status of Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby (sports hernia surgery).  

Pittsburgh News & Notes

The Penguins continue to be one of the NHL’s best-coached teams thanks to Mike Sullivan, who will likely be a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as long as they stay in contention for the division title and make the playoffs for the 14th consecutive season as expected.

They are now playing without leading scorer Jake Guentzel (20 goals and 23 assists) – who is out four to six months following shoulder surgery – in addition to Crosby, and still keep finding ways to win. Pittsburgh upset the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 on Tuesday as a +155 road underdog to open its three-game trip behind an early 3-0 lead and then held on despite a late charge from its opponent.

Goaltender Tristan Jarry has been the difference lately, going 10-1-1 vs Western Conference opponents and 14-6-1 overall en route to becoming a first-time all-star.

Colorado News & Notes

The Avalanche are certainly one of the league’s most talented clubs, but they have struggled a bit trying to find some consistency in the first half of the season. Their recently completed three-game East Coast road trip is the perfect example, as they routed the New Jersey Devils 5-2 as -200 favorites in the opener only to lose the last two to the New York Islanders and Rangers by a combined score of 6-3 despite closing as chalk both times.

There is no doubt that this team has earned the respect of oddsmakers, but Colorado’s results often seem to be dictated by how well the goaltender plays, especially early on in the game. Veteran goalie Philipp Grubauer (12-10-3, 2.92 goals-against average) has been outplayed by second-year sensation Pavel Francouz (11-4-1, 2.32 GAA), and that could be an issue come playoff time.

Betting Pick: Colorado -150

The Avalanche have played four more games on the road than they have at home so far, and they would love to finish strong at the Pepsi Center with a big five-game homestand before the all-star break. This is a huge game, and they have won two straight at home in the series.

Shark Bites
  • The OVER is 7-2 in Colorado’s last 9 games.
  • Pittsburgh is 12-3-1 in its last 16 games.
  • The UNDER is 3-1 in Pittsburgh’s last 4 games.