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Penguins-Avalanche Preview

Thursday, 11.01.2007 / 5:00 PM

Associated Press

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Penguins-Avalanche Preview
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Colorado Avalanche

On Tuesday night, hockey fans in Minnesota saw how Sidney Crosby appeared to score at will. Fans in Colorado will get their first live look at the reigning NHL MVP next.

Coming off his best offensive game this season, Crosby will try to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to their fourth straight road win when they meet the streaking Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.

Playing his first game as a pro in Minnesota on Tuesday night, Crosby had a goal and three assists for a season high four points in the Penguins' 4-2 win over the Wild. It was the eighth career four-point game for Crosby, who scored 72 goals in 57 games in 2002-03 as a prep school star at Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault, Minn.

"It's fun to be able to come here and play," Crosby said. "No matter how the night ended up, it's just nice because I was here before, watching games and dreamed of one day playing in the NHL and playing here. It's really a bonus to come out of here with a win."

After being held without a point in a season-opening loss to Carolina on Oct. 5, Crosby has had at least one in all 10 games since then, totaling five goals and 12 assists. He's tied with Calgary's Daymond Langkow for fifth in league in scoring, five points behind league-leading Henrik Zetterberg of Detroit.

Crosby has faced Colorado once in his career, posting an assist in the Penguins' 4-3 home win on Dec, 10, 2005.

Evgeni Malkin scored twice in the win over the Wild, and has three goals and six assists in a four-game points streak. Malkin, the 2006-07 Calder Trophy winner, is one point behind Crosby for the team lead.

With his two goals, Malkin now has 101 career points in just 89 games. The only active player to reach 100 points quicker was Washington's Alex Ovechkin, who needed just 77 games in 2005-06.

Dany Sabourin got the start in goal ahead for the Penguins (6-4-1) ahead of Marc-Andre Fleury, and improved to 2-0-1 with a 2.06 goals-against average. If Sabourin starts against the Avalanche, it would mark the first time this season he will start two straight games.

Fleury is 0-1-0 with a 5.99 GAA in his last two starts.

Colorado (7-4-0) won its third in a row overall and remained unbeaten at home following a 3-1 victory over Minnesota on Sunday. Ryan Smyth had a goal and assist and Joe Sakic added two assists for the Avalanche, who improved to 5-0-0 at the Pepsi Center for the first time since moving from Quebec in 1995.

"Certain things were pointed out going into the season, and winning at home and playing well at home was important," Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville said.

Smyth, a key free-agent acquisition in the offseason, has been a driving force behind Colorado's unprecedented home start, tallying three goals and four assists in his last four games there.

Sakic, who has a goal and four assists in a five-game run overall, has fared well on home ice against the Penguins. In 16 games dating back to December 1989, Sakic has a point in all but one with 14 goals and 18 assists.

Since Oct. 10, 1993, Sakic has points in 11 straight home games against Pittsburgh. He has 12 goals and 13 assists over that stretch with Colorado going 7-2-0 with two ties.

Jose Theodore gets the starting nod in goal for the Avalanche tonight. The netminder's last start came in a 3-2 overtime victory over Calgary on Friday (Oct. 26). Theodore recorded 39 saves in that outing to improve his season record to 2-2-0 with a .907 save percentage and 2.70 goals-against average.

2007-2008 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Nov 01 '07PIT 2 at COL 3B. Guite
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