National Hockey League
Preview
Pittsburgh at Colorado
When: 10:00 PM ET, Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

The Pittsburgh Penguins accomplished their mission of adding experience at the blue line prior to Monday's trade deadline and they'll begin to incorporate defensemen Ian Cole and Ben Lovejoy into the lineup when they start a four-game road trip Wednesday against the Colorado Avalanche. Pittsburgh has won four straight and owns a three-game point streak on the road (2-0-1) as it has 20 games left to improve its postseason position. “The Penguins have as good a chance as any team in the Eastern Conference,” general manager Jim Rutherford told reporters after acquiring Cole from St. Louis and Lovejoy from Anaheim.

Lovejoy returns to Pittsburgh with a boatload of confidence after the Penguins traded him to the Ducks two years ago. "I like to think I've grown a ton,” Lovejoy told reporters. “I feel like I’m an asset playing out there. I think I’m much better with the puck. I have proven I’m incredibly difficult to play against.” Colorado's chances of reaching the postseason took a big hit with a 3-1 loss to Minnesota on Saturday, dropping it further out of the picture with 19 games remaining.

TV: 10 p.m. ET, ROOT (Pittsburgh), Altitude (Colorado)

ABOUT THE PENGUINS (36-17-9): Evgeni Malkin was named the NHL's Third Star of the Week after collecting two goals and four assists in victories over Washington (4-3) on Feb. 25 and Columbus (5-3) on Sunday, and recorded three points in three consecutive games. “He’s been dominant,” goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He goes around guys, dangles through guys, goes to the net. When he’s on his game, he’s good to have on your side." The Penguins top line of captain Sidney Crosby, David Perron and Patric Hornqvist combined for six goals and nine assists in their last four contests.

ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (27-25-11): The frustrations of what appears to be a lost season boiled over near the end of Saturday's loss when Cody McLeod started a fight with three seconds left and Gabriel Landeskog punched fellow captain Mikko Koivu while both jawed from the end of their benches. Both were fined after Colorado missed an opportunity to gain two points on one of the teams it must pass to reach the playoffs. Reigning Calder Trophy winner Nathan MacKinnon was benched during Friday's 5-4 shootout victory at Dallas and broke his nose against Minnesota - "It's part of the game and I guess I'm a hockey player now, with a broken nose," the 19-year-old told reporters. MacKinnon also saw Max Talbot, who took him in to live in his home this season, traded to Boston on Monday.

OVERTIME

1. Pittsburgh converted 6-of-18 power plays during its last four games after going 0-for-20 in its previous nine contests.

2. The Penguins, who also play at Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose during a four-day span beginning Friday, are 12-4-2 versus the Western Conference.

3. Pittsburgh has won two straight meetings and six of the last seven encounters after a 1-0 victory Dec. 18 on Blake Comeau's overtime goal.

PREDICTION: Penguins 5, Avalanche 3
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div
Pittsburgh 36-17-4-5 W4 20-10-1-2 16-7-3-3 2-2-0-1 34-15-4-4 9-11-2-2
Colorado 27-25-7-4 L1 16-13-2-1 11-12-5-3 3-1-1-0 24-24-6-4 10-12-3-1
Last Meeting
Pittsburgh Colorado
Date Away Home Shots Saves PP Shots Saves PP
12/18/14 COL 0 PIT 1 (OT) 48 29 0-2 29 47 0-2
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Total Points Player  
Pittsburgh B. Comeau 1
Colorado A. Agozzino 0
Goals Player  
Pittsburgh B. Comeau 1
Colorado A. Agozzino 0
Assists Player  
Pittsburgh E. Malkin 1
Colorado A. Agozzino 0
Saves Player  
Pittsburgh M. Fleury 29
Colorado C. Pickard 47
Season
Total Points Player  
Pittsburgh S. Crosby 64
Colorado M. Duchene 45
Goals Player  
Pittsburgh E. Malkin 26
Colorado J. Iginla 19
Assists Player  
Pittsburgh S. Crosby 44
Colorado T. Barrie 31
Saves Player  
Pittsburgh M. Fleury 1343
Colorado S. Varlamov 1289
Quickchart Matchup
Pittsburgh Off vs  Colorado Def
2.87 GF
2.83 GA
31.1 Shots
33.1 Shots
42 PP
33 PK
Colorado Off vs  Pittsburgh Def
2.52 GF
2.42 GA
28.5 Shots
29.5 Shots
25 PP
32 PK