Get your game notes: Avalanche at Penguins

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Should be a good one tonight in Pittsburgh between the host Penguins and surprising Colorado Avalanche. The game can be seen on NBCSN (TSN2 in Canada) starting at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

—– The Pittsburgh Penguins are 5-0-0 on home ice this season and have scored 18 home goals (5th most in the NHL), three apiece by Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Jussi Jokinen. As a team, the Avalanche have allowed only four goals on the road, and are tied with the Boston Bruins for the fewest road goals allowed/game (1.00).

—– Since the CONSOL Energy Center opened before the 2010-11 season, the Penguins have the most home wins in the NHL: (Pittsburgh – 77; Chicago, San Jose – 73; St. Louis – 72; Vancouver – 71)

—– The Avalanche are 4-0-0 on the road (two wins short of the franchise record to start a season, six in 2011-12), where they have outscored their opponents by a 13-4 margin. However, the Avs have not won in Pittsburgh since a 5-3 victory on Jan. 24, 2004 (3 consecutive regulation losses). In that game, two Penguins rookies, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (five goals allowed) and Brooks Orpik (1st career NHL goal), and Avalanche forward Alex Tanguay (zero points), suited up for their respective teams.

—– In a head-to-head comparison of number one overall draft picks from the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (2013) has one goal and six assists through his first eight NHL games. Through eight games of his rookie season (2005-06), Penguins center Sidney Crosby (2005) had two goals and nine assists.

—– Sidney Crosby is off to the best start of his career through eight games (seven goals, 10 assists). His 2.13 points/game is 0.70 higher than his career average (1.43). Since 1995-96, when Mario Lemieux (2.30) became the most recent player to average more than two points/game over a season (min. 70 games), three of the top five spots for scoring average in a single season are held by Penguins.
1. Lemieux, Pittsburgh Penguins, 2000-01, 1.61 points/game (122 points in 76 games)
2. Jaromir Jagr, Pittsburgh Penguins, 1998-99, 1.57 points/game (127 points in 81 games)
3. Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks, 2005-06, 1.54 points/game (125 points in 81 games)
4. Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins, 2006-07, 1.52 points/game (120 points in 79 games)
5. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals, 2009-10, 1.51 points/game (109 points in 72 games)

—– Coming off a 4-2 defeat of Buffalo on Saturday, Jean-Sebastien Giguere (2-0-0, 1.00 GAA, .971 save%) is slated to tend the Avalanche net for the second consecutive game. The 2003 Conn Smythe Trophy winner has not backstopped Colorado to consecutive wins since Feb. 7 and Feb. 10, 2012.

—– Avalanche forward Matt Duchene has six goals in first eight games. In four previous NHL seasons, he never had more than two goals in his first 10 games of a season. Dating back to last season, the Avs are 7-0-0 in their last seven games when Duchene lights the lamp.

—– By starting his NHL head coaching career with six consecutive wins, Patrick Roy matched the NHL record held by his former coach in Montreal, Mario Tremblay (1995-96). Right below the Hall of Fame goaltender and Tremblay on the list, with five wins apiece, are Roy’s first coach with the Avalanche, Marc Crawford (1994-95, Quebec), and Bep Guidolin (1972-73, Boston).

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports
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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.

Kuzmenko signs 2-year extension with Canucks

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Forward Andrei Kuzmenko signed a two-year contract extension with the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

The deal has an average annual value of $5.5 million.

The 26-year-old Kuzmenko has played in 47 games for the Canucks this season with 21 goals and 22 assists, four penalty minutes and a plus-4 defensive ranking.

Kuzmenko ranks second on the team in goals and power-play goals (nine) this season.

His 43 points are also tied for third on the team in overall scoring, while his 32 even-strength points (12 goals, 20 assists) are second on the Canucks.

Kuzmenko leads all Vancouver skaters in shooting rate (24.7%) and ranks third in the NHL in that category (minimum of 20 games).

He leads all first-year NHLers in almost every offensive category, including goals, assists, points, points per game (0.91), power-play goals, and power-play points.

He has also had 14 multi-point games so far this season (second most on the Canucks), highlighted by his first-career NHL hat trick and season-high four-point game against Anaheim on Nov. 3.

A native of Yakutsk, Russia, Kuzmenko spent his first eight professional seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) with CSKA Moscow and SKA St. Petersburg, getting 200 points (85-115-200) in 315 regular-season games. He set career highs in goals (20), assists (33), and points (53) last season, ranking second in the league in scoring.

Kuzmenko has also represented his country on the international stage on multiple occasions, totaling 16 points (10-6-16) and six penalty minutes in 37 games played. He was originally signed by Vancouver to a one-year, entry-level contract on July 13, 2022.