Pittsburgh Penguins: Keys to the game vs. Colorado Avalanche

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 09: Sidney Crosby
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 09: Sidney Crosby /

The Pittsburgh Penguins are looking to recover from a 4-3 loss against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will host the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night. The Avs are last in the central division, sporting an unimpressive 13-13-2 record.

The Avs have only won one game in their past five, but should come out hungry in an attempt to stash two points before Christmas.

Here are three keys to winning this match-up against a struggling Colorado team.

Play Physical

The Avs rank dead last in the NHL with 506 total hits registered for the season. The Penguins on the other hand, rank fifth with 742 hits. The difference is staggering and should allow Pittsburgh to dominate the physical aspect of the game.

If Kuhnhackl and Hornqvist both miss tonight’s game, look for Reaves, Rowney and Guentzel to lead the team in that department.

By laying into bodies and finishing checks, the Pens should be able to create space and generate scoring chances.

Redemption for Jarry

After being pulled in Saturday’s game, Tristan Jarry could use a confidence boost. The rookie goaltender comes into Monday’s game with a .914 SV% and 2.66 GAA.

Jarry has made such a good first impression on the team and fans alike with his calm demeanor and seemingly veteran presence in the crease. Although Saturday proved difficult, hopefully the 22 year old can return to his stoic ways.

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It may be easier than expected, as Colorado ranks 27th in the league with 29.53 shots per game. Combined with a Pittsburgh defense that ranks 3rd in blocked shots (473), a scenario in which Jarry can bounce back is set.

Strike First

The Colorado Avalanche have not won a game this season when trailing after the first period.

10 of the Pens’ 16 wins have come leading after the first.

Now I’m not a scientist, but this evidence seems to suggest that taking the lead after one period of play could be beneficial.

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Oh how’d that get there? It may not be a key to victory, but hey, why chance it? Follow us on Twitter here and check out the Facebook.