NHL Penguins try to end loss skid
Pittsburgh has dropped six straight home games.
CANONSBURG, Pa. (AP) -- As the Pittsburgh Penguins began their descent into the National Hockey League basement, the team proved a feisty competitor on home ice.
Through their first 17 games at Mellon Arena, the Penguins were 7-7-3, including a win over Central Division-leading Detroit.
Since then, however, it's been a downhill slide on home ice for Pittsburgh.
The Penguins (11-30-5-3) have dropped six straight games at Mellon Arena and, with a loss today against Colorado, will tie the 1983-84 squad for the team record of seven in a row.
"We don't prepare any differently or try to play a more wide-open style, but right now we're going through one of those tough times at home," Pittsburgh head coach Eddie Olczyk said. "Back before Christmastime we were playing really well at home and couldn't win on the road. ... Now the shoe's on the other foot."
Sebastien Caron was in goal the first four games of the home skid, but was torched for 23 goals including an 8-0 whipping by Montreal before being demoted to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League earlier this week.
Jean-Sebastien Aubin stood in the crease for the last two and fared a bit better -- he only gave up six goals -- but the Penguins could generate only one goal in two games.
"In our next home game, we've got to find a way to win a game, 1-0, and score a goal and get our confidence," Olczyk said. "All teams go through it. It goes in peaks and valleys."
Olczyk will try to break the string with a third goalie. Rookie Marc-Andre Fleury will get the nod against the Avalanche, his first game on Mellon Arena ice since losing to the New York Rangers 4-1 on Nov. 28.
Fleury spent nearly five weeks away, leading Canada to a silver medal at the World Junior Championships in Finland. He rejoined the Penguins only 13 days ago.
"They're a team full of skill players," Fleury said of Colorado. "It will be an exciting game to watch."
Fleury has had a rude awakening since his return.
In his first game back, the top pick in the 2003 draft allowed four goals in the third period of a 4-2 loss at Minnesota. Even so, he was tabbed as the Penguins No. 1 goaltender Wednesday by Olczyk.