For all of the times the Pittsburgh Penguins have outplayed an opponent for 40 minutes only to see a single poor period of play result in a loss, the team was finally rewarded for less than half of a good hockey game.
The Penguins played arguably their worst 30 minutes of hockey all season to open the game. The Avalanche looked like they had brought back Peter Forsberg and Joe Sakic the way they schooled Penguin defenders through the period-and-a-half.
Fortunately, fresh off a near-comeback loss to Carolina on Saturday night where the team erased a three-goal deficit entering the third period only to lose the game 5-3, Evgeni Malkin and the Penguins knew what they had to do when they entered the second period of tonight’s game with the Colorado Avalanche down 3-1, and the third down 3-2.
A lucky Brooks Orpik goal tied the game just a minute into the third period, and it was all downhill from there for Colorado. Malkin scored a nifty goal three minutes later that may have rivaled Matt Duchene‘s first period beauty.
James Neal later buried a Steve Sullivan pass across the crease on the power play for his 12th goal of the season (second in the NHL), and Kris Letang did his best Bobby Orr impression, taking the puck coast-to-coast and behind Semyon Varlamov for the Penguins’ 6th goal.
Neal finished as the game’s first star with a goal and two assists, while Malkin, Letang and Staal each had goal-and-assist performances.
Tyler Kennedy played his first game since October 15 when he suffered a concussion, finishing with an assist.
Marc-Andre Fleury was shaky in the first, allowing three goals on 12 shots, but clamped down to stop each of Colorado’s final 15, including just three of three in the third.
Pittsburgh’s power play went 1-for-7, but their league-leading penalty kill stopped Colorado’s top-ranked power play on both of its man advantages.
The Penguins now travel to Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, before playing the Florida Panthers Saturday night.
Duchene through his legs:
Malkin through Landeskog’s legs: