Penguins will try to slow Avs top line in second meeting in six days

Sure, Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. The top line of the Colorado Avalanche is dominant.

The Penguins (10-10-5) will get a second look at the line — Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen — in six days Monday when Colorado (16-6-5) visits PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday.

“That was something that we talked about (last week),” Sullivan said of Wednesday’s 6-3 loss in Denver. “We’ve got some pretty good players on our team, too. They’re just not all on the same line.”

Colorado’s top three forwards are also some of the top players in the NHL. They have combined for 46 goals, 188 points. Rantanen leads the league with 45 points, MacKinnon is second with 43 points, and Landeskog is in the top 20 with 30 points.

In the game last week, MacKinnon had a goal and three assists, Landeskog a goal and an assist, and Rantanen two assists.

“They’ve got speed. They’ve got skill. They’re strong,” Pittsburgh defenseman Brian Dumoulin said of the top Avalanche line. “They’re hard on pucks. They’re a dynamic group. If we can shut them down, that goes a long way.”

The Penguins aren’t bereft of skill, but their top producers are spread among two or three lines. In the game last week, Sidney Crosby had a natural hat trick to erase a three-goal deficit, but Colorado then pulled away.

Crosby has three goals, 10 points in the past six games and seems to be nearly alone in carrying Pittsburgh, which has lost two straight after a 3-0-2 stretch.

“We’ve just got to find consistency,” Crosby said of the Penguins, who reach the one-third mark in the season Tuesday. “We’ve got to find ways to not hurt ourselves in games with big mistakes, and if we do make them, we’ve got to find a way to bail each other out of those mistakes — get some big plays or big goals, whatever it is.”

Dumoulin believes facing the Avalanche will force Pittsburgh play a disciplined game, and not just because of its top line.

“I think it helps playing teams like Colorado,” Dumoulin said. “They’re a structured team. For us to beat them, we have to be structured, too. If we do that and we play hard against these guys, then it could lead to follow-up games and us playing well again.”

The Avalanche is coming off a 2-0 win Sunday at Detroit to open a four-game road trip and extend its point streak to 11 games (9-0-2).

“We want to continue our success on the road, try to continue in Pittsburgh,” Colorado winger Matt Calvert said. “Always a tough barn to play in. But I thought we were pretty good against them last game, and we’ll try to continue that.”

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said defenseman Tyson Barrie, who has 23 points in 20 games, should be OK to return after missing four games because of an undisclosed injury.

Pittsburgh on Monday traded lightly-used winger Daniel Sprong to Anaheim for defenseman Marcus Pettersson.