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No Letang as Penguins aim to continue win streak vs. Avs

The streaking Pittsburgh Penguins are aiming for a fifth straight victory, but must do so tonight in Colorado without their top offensive producer from the blue line.

The Pens will be without defenseman Kris Letang as they shoot for a fourth consecutive victory over the Avalanche.

Letang leads all Penguins' defenseman with 31 points this year despite missing 21 games earlier this season due to a concussion. The blueliner, though, is on the shelf again due to concussion-like symptoms stemming from a hit in Wednesday's 4-3 shootout win at Dallas. Pittsburgh also lost Steve Sullivan to a lower-body injury in the third period and he is questionable tonight.

Sullivan was one of three goal-scorers for Pittsburgh in regulation on Wednesday, joining Chris Kunitz and Craig Adams. Pascal Dupuis then netted the game-winner in the fourth-round of the shootout.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 30 saves in the win, Pittsburgh's 16th in 21 games since a six-game slide from Dec. 29-Jan. 11.

"It's just a great job for the team to come back there," said Kunitz. "They caught us, but great job on the kill in overtime. Fleury was great, as always, and the defense was blocking shots, so it was a good team win."

Pittsburgh sits fourth overall in the Eastern Conference with 79 points, two ahead of Philadelphia but 10 back of the New York Rangers for first place in Atlantic Division and Eastern standings.

Colorado's position in the West isn't as good. The Avalanche are 20 points back of the Canucks for first place in the Northwest Division as well as three points behind the Sharks and Stars for the final two playoff seeds in the conference standings.

The Avs outscored their opponents 17-5 over a four-game win streak that was halted on Thursday with a 2-0 loss to the visiting Blue Jackets. Colorado was shut out for the seventh time this season and for the first time since Feb. 2.

Semyon Varlamov made 26 saves in defeat.

"We didn't move as good as we usually do, or at least as of late," said Avalanche winger Milan Hejduk. "Just a bad game right from the first period. We were getting outplayed and once we fell behind, it is tough to play catch up hockey."

The Avalanche have allowed 13 goals over their three straight losses to the Penguins, dropping a 6-3 decision in Pittsburgh on Nov. 15. Evgeni Malkin netted the winner for the Pens during a four-goal third period.

Pittsburgh snapped a five-game slide in Colorado with a 3-2 overtime win on Feb. 16, 2011.

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