-If you thought last night's lineup was similar to a preseason lineup, whoooo boy are you in for a treat tonight. Officially, the Penguins will rest Sidney Crosby ("upper body"), Chris Kunitz ("lower body"), Brooks Orpik ("lower body") and Olli Maatta ("upper body") tonight. Jussi Jokinen, who was scratched for an "upper body" ailment yesterday, will return to the lineup.
-Unofficially, the Penguins are resting these players, each of whom participated in the Olympics, because this game means nothing to the Penguins in the standings. Also, Crosby has an 18-point lead in the scoring race. This is the right move by the coaching staff.
-The last time Crosby played in Colorado was a 5-3 win by the Avalanche, Jan. 10, 2009. That was roughly a month before Dan Bylsma took over for Michel Therrien.
-This will give Adam Payerl a chance to make his NHL debut after being recalled earlier today from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Payerl is a big body (6-foot-3 218 pounds) who isn't afraid to hit. If he could ever figure things out at the NHL level, he could be a Jordan Nolan or Dwight King type of player for the Penguins.
-Payerl will be the seventh player in franchise history to wear No. 45. His predecessors are Mike Needham, Glen Mulvenna, Peter Ferraro, Martin Sonnenberg, Rob Scuderi and Arron Asham.
-We would give Asham the nod for the best No. 45 in Penguins history. Scuderi wore it briefly as a rookie.
-According to the team's Web site, the Penguins' lines and defensive pairings tonight will be:
Beau Bennett - Jussi Jokinen - James Neal
Tanner Glass - Brandon Sutter - Lee Stempniak
Taylor Pyatt - Andrew Ebbett - Brian Gibbons
Jayson Megna - Craig Adams - Adam Payerl
Paul Martin - Robert Bortuzzo
Rob Scuderi - Matt Niskanen
Simon Despres - Deryk Engelland
-The Avalanche have few bodies missing from the lineup but it has plenty of motivation. With the Blackhawks still battling for the No. 2 seed in the Central Division, the Avalanche will be playing for home ice advantage in the first round tonight. Expect a full effort from the home team tonight.
-The Penguins' starters are Tanner Glass, Lee Stempniak, Brandon Sutter, Robert Bortuzzo, Paul Martin and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Sidney Crosby, Marcel Goc, Chris Kunitz, Olli Maatta, Evgeni Malkin and Brooks Orpik.
-The Avalanche's starters are Nathan MacKinnon, Jamie McGinn, Ryan O'Reilly, Nick Holden, Andre Benoit and Semyon Varlamov.
-Its scratches are Reto Berra, Matt Duchene, Cody McLeod, P.A. Parenteau and Cory Sarich.
18:58: A wrister by Niskanen from the right point is wide on the near side.
16:55: Bortuzzo chucks a wrister from the right point at the cage. It gets blocked.
16:41: Off a feed by Jamie McGinn, MacKinnon lifts a wrister from the right circle. Fleury boots it out.
15:38: Scuderi chops a slapper from the right point. It hits something in front. Stempniak has a chance on the rebound but can't get a handle on it.
15:20: Gibbons snaps off a wrister from the right circle which is blocked by Nate Guenin.
14:52: Ebbett rips a wrister from the right half wall. Varlamov boots it out with his right leg.
14:09: A slapper by Megna from the right wing is blocked out of play by Nick Holden.
13:24: McGinn lifts a wrister from the high slot. Fleury traps it against his body.
13:03: Guenin chucks a wrister from the left point. Ryan O'Reilly deflects it down on net fro the slot. Fleury kicks it out.
12:11: Bortuzzo strokes a slapper from above the right circle on net. Varlamov boots it out.
11:08: Maxime Talbot dekes around Engelland in the Penguins' left circle and attacks the net. His wrister is denied by Fleury.
10:13: The Avalanche will get the first power play as Megna is called for kneeing Paul Carey at the Colorado blue line. Sutter, Glass, Martin and Scuderi take the ice.
9:58: A one-timer by Landeskog in the left circle is fought off by Fleury.
9:50: MacKinnon tries to jam in a forehand shot from the left of the cage. Fleury boots it out. Sutter clears the rebound.
8:13: The Megna minor is killed with relatively little threat from the Avalanche.
7:49: Guenin chops a slapper from the right point. Fleury fights it off then swat away the rebound while falling.
7:39: A slapper by Mitchell from the high slot is kicked out by Fleury.
3:58: After a few stagnant minutes, Niskanen plays a puck out of the Penguins' left wing corner. He is dropped to the ice by a forechecking Patrick Bordeleau.
3:24: MacKinnon rips a wrister from the right circle. Fleury squares up and fights it off.
1:54: Engelland plays a puck out of play from his own zone. That's a delay of game minor. Sutter Martin, Adams and Bortuzzo take the ice.
1:29: Adams steals a puck on the right wing wall of the attacking zone and slides a cross-ice pass to Sutter in the left circle. Short-handed, Sutter, lifts a wrister which Varlamov fights off.
0:07: Landeskog and Tyson Barrie each have chances in tight but are robbed by Fleury each time. Wow!
0:00: End of period. Avalanche 0, Penguins 0.
-That period saw a much more honest and thorough effort from Penguins than last night.
-In terms of five-on-five play, it was a fairly even game. Each team exchange a fair amount of scoring chances.
-Special teams are a bit one-sided as the Avalanche have two power play while the Penguins have none.
-Each goaltender has looked sharp.
-The Avalanche has a 15-8 lead in shots on net.
-The Avalanche has a 20-14 lead in attempted shots.
-MacKinnon lead the game with four shots.
-Engelland leads the Penguins with two shots.
-Martin leads the game with 7:54 of ice time.
-Barrie is right behind him with 7:53.
-The Avalanche leads in faceoffs, 10-4.
-Paul Stastny is 4 for 5 (80 percent).
-Jokinen is 1 for 3 (33 percent).
-Holden leads the game with two blocked shots.
19:54: The Engelland minor expires. The Avalanche had a few chances with that power play.
18:56: Neal rips a wrister from the right left circle which is
18:14: Talbot chops a slapper from the right wing
17:42: Gibbons spins off the left wing and deals a pass to Despres in the slot. Despres sneaks in on net and puts a wrister off the near post.
16:14: Sutter sneaks up right wing on a partial two-on-one with Stempniak against Andre Benoit. Sutter elects to shoot and rips a wrister by the blocker of Varlamov on the far side. What a shot. It's a big goal for Sutter who needed that badly. Glass and Niskanen get assists. Penguins 1-0.
15:01: Erik Johnson chucks a wrister from the right point which Fleury stops.
13:16: The Penguins will get their first power play as Neal is high sticked by Benoit in the Colorado slot. Neal, Jokinen, Sutter, Martin and Niskanen take the ice.
12:52: Sutter again! Neal and Jokinen play hot potato with the puck near the right wing corner. Jokinen snaps off a wrister from the right half wall towards the cage. Sutter is in front of the blue paint and re-directs it behind Varlamov. Another important goal for Sutter. Jokinen and Neal get assists. Penguins 2-0.
12:36: MacKinnon streaks up the left wing with the puck on his backhand and flings a shot on net.
11:05: The Avalanche go back on the power play as Gibbons is called for hooking Landeskog. Sutter, Adams, Niskanen and Martin take the ice.
9:48: O'Reilly whacks a one-timer from the right circle. Fleury snags it.
9:31: Johnson chops a slapper from the right point. Fleury kicks it out.
9:05: The Gibbons minor is killed. The Penguins were solid with that penalty kill.
8:52: Talbot chucks a wrister from the right point. Fleury eats it up.
8:33: Hejda lifts a wrister from the left point. Fleury traps it against his chest.
7:00: Martin chops a one-timer from the right point.
6:14: Ebbett taps a puck on net from the left circle over the cage.
5:24: Payerl rips a wrister from the left circle. Varlamov eats it up.
5:08: Talbot snaps off a wrister from the slot. Fleury boots it out with his left skate.
4:44: Bennett used Jan Hejda as a screen uncorks a big wrister from the slot.
4:14: A wrister by O'Reilly from the left wing is fought off by Fleury.
3:36: Pyatt rips a wrister from the right point. Varlamov fights it off. Pyatt races to the rebound and chops a backhander on net. Varlamov denies it.
2:48: After a turnover by Fleury from behind his own net, MacKinnon has a chance in right but a backcheck by Adams denies him of a clean shot.
3:08: A wrister by Landeskog from the right wing is fought off by Fleury.
1:46: Jokinen and Neal each have chances in tight but can't beat Varlamov.
1:14: Sutter jumps on a loose puck in the right circle and rips it over the cage.
1:07: Glass chucks a wrister from above the left circle on net. Varlamov eats it up.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Avalanche 0.
-This is a surprise to put it mildly. The Avalanche should be running away with this game. Instead, the Penguins' patchwork lineup has outworked them most of this game. As a result, they have a two-goal lead.
-This might have been Brandon Sutter's best period of the season. Each of his goals were pretty sharp.
-Fleury faux pas behind the net aside, he continues to look pretty sharp. The Avalanche have been putting a lot of shots on net from the perimeter and he has kicked out some safe rebounds.
-The Avalanche has a 27-22 lead in shots on net.
-The Avalanche has a 40-34 lead in attempted shots.
-Martin leads the game with 16:53 of ice time.
-Barrie leads the Avalanche with 15:47 of ice time.
-The Avalanche has a 21-12 lead in faceoffs (64 percent).
-Stastny is 8 for 11 (73 percent).
-Ebbett is 4 for 6 (67 percent).
-Holden and Ebbett each lead the game with three blocked shots.
19:42: McGinnn controls a puck down low behind the Penguins' net. He feeds a puck to O'Reilly above the blue pain. O'Reilly is able to snap off a shot by Varlamov. Bortuzzo didn't tie down O'Reilly's stick on that play. McGinn and Mitchell get assists. Penguins 2-1.
18:33: Ebbett rips a wrister from the right circle which gets deflected out of play by a stick check from Barrie.
18:28: Payerl and Hejda get tangled up in the Avalanche's right wing corner. Payerl's stick gets him in the face. Sutter, Adams, Bortuzzo and Martin.
18:02: Benoit rips a wrister from the slot which deflects wide of the cage.
16:37: McGinn snaps off a wrister from the left circle on the near side.
16:21: Escaping the penalty box, Payerl races up the right wing and rips a heavy wrister on net. Varlamov kick its out.
14:46: Pyatt tries to jam in a forehand wraparound attempt from the right of the cage. Varlamov holds it out.
16:06: Neal uncorks a heavy wrister from the left circle. Varlamov punches it away.
14:51: A slapper by Stastny is blocked by Ebbett.
11:20: Johnson has a slapper from the right point blocked by Bennett.
10:32: After icing the puck, the Penguins call a timeout to get organized.
9:23: Brad Malone chucks a wrister from the right point. Fleury kicks it out. Despres skates the rebound out of danger.
8:06: Hejda lifts a wrister from the slot. Fleury fight it off. Stastny chops the rebound wide.
7:45: A couple of the players from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton help draw a penalty. After Payerl blocks a shot by Johnson. Megna pushes the puck up ice one-on-one against Landeskog. Landeskog resorts to tripping him to prevent a scoring chance. Sutter, Neal, Jokinen, Martin and Niskanen take the ice.
5:45: Two minutes later, the Penguins did little with that chance.
5:34: Landeskog rips a wrister from the right wing over the cage.
5:23: Payerl a wrister from the left wing wide of the cage.
4:55: Argh! Sutter rips a wrister from the right circle to the far side and which hits off the far post. So close to a hat trick.
4:20: O'Reilly lifts a wrister from the left circle. Fleury fights it off then smothers the rebund after a few Avalanche players swarm the crease.
3:13: The Avalanche finally break through. Barrie rips a wrister from the right point into a mass of bodies in the slot. It appears to glance off the stick of Bordeleau and behind Fleury. Barrie and Holden get assists. Avalanche 2, Penguins 2.
2:17: Neal rips a slapper from the left circle. Varlamov stops it but allows it to squirts through his gear and trickles wide of the cage.
1:11: Ebbett whips a wrister from the right circle on net. Varlamov eats it up.
0:00: End of game. Avalanche 2, Penguins 2.
The Avalanche has a 38-32 lead in shots on net.
4:48: Off a turnover by Bortuzzo at the Penguins' blue line, O'Reilly rips a wrister wide of the cage.
3:52: Niskanen cranks a slapper from the right point wide of the cage.
3:15: Jamie McGinn booms a slapper from above the left circle. Fleury stretches out to snag it.
2:10: Neal steals a puck at the Penguins' blue line and pushes it up ice. He usues a defender a ss creen and rips a wrister wide of the cage.
0:58: Stempniak rips a wrister from the right circle wide of the cage.
0:51: The Avalanche call a timeout to get organized.
0:38: Martin chips a puck out of play. That's a delay of game minor. The Avalanche will finish the period with a four-on-three power play.
0:15: Barrie booms a slapper from the right point.
0:02: MacKinnon whacks a slapper from left circle. Adams slides down to block it.
0:00: End of period. Avalanche 2, Penguins 2.
-The Avalanche has a 41-32 lead in shots on net.
-Barrie, a defenseman is up first. He comes in on net down the slow, slows down and flips a forehand shot wide of the cage.
-Neal races in on net down the slot and shoots five hole. Varlamov steers it away.
-O'Reilly wings wide to the right, levels out and attacks the net. he tries to tuck in a forehand shot through the five hole but Fleury kicks it out.
-Jokinen goes wide to the right levels out and attacks the net. He waits for Varlamov to slide down to the iceand lifts a wrister by his blocker and into the cage. Penguins 1-0.
-Landeksog must score. He veers slightly to the right, levels out and lifts a wrister which Fleury punches away. End of shootout. Penguins 1, Avalanche 0. End of game. Penguins 3, Avalanche 2
-This is an odd game to figure out. Part of us wants to say the Penguins stole two points. Part of us wants to say the Avalanche were due for a letdown after an emotional game against the Blues last night. Another part of us wants to laud a depleted Penguins lineup for giving an honest effort and winning on the road against a tough opponent.
-That last point is ultimately the most important aspect. A win on the road against a good team is always a positive regardless of the circumstances.
-The biggest reason for the result was Marc-Andre Fleury. He saw plenty of shots from the perimeter most of the night and kicked out a lot of safe rebounds.
-Brandon Sutter finally stepped up. With the Penguins missing so many star players throughout the season, Sutter has not been all that strong when it came to replacing some of that missing offense. He accounted for all of the Penguins' offense in regulation today with some pretty impressive scores. Brandon Sutter might not score that often, but more often than not, the scores important goals.
-Sutter seemed to have some chemistry with the Tanner Glass and Lee Stempniak. That could very well be the team's third line int he postseason.
-The call-ups all seemed to offer something. Brian Gibbons, Jayson Megna, Adam Payerl, Andrew Ebbett each stayed within the team's structure and provided something in this game.
-At the very least, Payerl seemed like he belonged at this level. He wasn't hesitant to mix it up physically. He had 9:33 of ice time on 16 shifts, three shots and one blocked shot.
-The Penguins claimed the special team's battle. They scrapped out one goal with a barebones power-play unit and blanked a talented opponent on four penalty kills.
-That shootout goal for Jusi Jokinen was huge for him individually. One of the best shootout specialists in NHL history, Jokinen had been 0 for 6 this season before tonight. That slump had been eating at him.
-Not to be a killjoy, but we wonder if the Avalanche weren't completely ready for this game from an emotional standpoint after an emotional game against the rival Blues yesterday. That game against arguably the best team in the NHL got ugly with a lot of post-whistle activities. It's hard to imagine the Avalanche being as amped for today's game against a lineup full of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
-The Avalanche had a 41-32 lead in shots on net.
-The Avalanche had a 61-53 lead in attempted shots.
-Nathan MacKinnon and Ryan O'Reilly each led the game with six shots.
-Ebbett led the Penguins with four shots.
-Martin led the game with 27:36 of ice time.
-Barrie led the Avalanche with 26:18.
-The Avalanche led in faceoffs, 36-22 (62 percent).
-Paul Stastny was 14 for 19 (74 percent).
-Jokinen was 7 for 15 (47 percent).
-Ebbett led the game with four blocked shots.
-Nick Holden led the Avalanche with three blocked shots.
-Neal moved past Rick Tocchet for 42nd place on the franchise's career scoring list. Both players have 179 points but Neal (86 goals) has more goals than Tocchet (76).