Winners of four of their last six games and fresh off beating hated rival Minnesota, the Colorado Avalanche rolled into tonight's contest against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins feeling like things were finally starting to turn around.
The Penguins would respond in kind on a twice-tipped shot from Olli Maatta from the point with Matt Cullen getting the final deflection to beat Avalanche netminder Reto Berra and bringing the game to 1-1.
Not to be outdone, the Avalanche roared back as Erik Johnson took flight through the neutral zone with the puck, dropping it to Carl Soderberg as they entered the offensive zone, and tipped the puck behind Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for a 2-1 Avalanche lead 15:00 into the period. Colorado would hold that lead into first intermission.
Despite a second period largely dominated by the Penguins, the Avalanche and Berra were able to stave off the offensive onslaught to take their 2-1 lead into the third period.
The Avalanche would be gifted a golden opportunity to score an insurance goal and push the lead to 3-1 as they enjoyed significant power play time in the first half of the third period, including 36 seconds of five-on-three play, and despite throwing a number of pucks at the net they could not beat Fleury.
Former Denver Pioneer star Beau Bennett would tie the game shortly after the parade of Penguin penalties on a backhand shot that beat a sliding Berra. The Penguins would press the momentum, taking a 3-2 lead on a wild puck bounce that deflected up over the net, off several players, and into the Avalanche net.
The Avalanche unraveling would continue just minutes later as Bennett scored his second goal of the game to push the Penguins lead to 4-2 at 10:43 of the third period and brought the game to its final score.
1. Beau Bennett - 2 goals
2. Patric Hornqvist - 1 goal, 1 assist
3. Erik Johnson - 1 goal
PLAY OF THE GAME
The game-winning goal proved to be the one that broke Colorado's back.
Without this great glove save by Fleury, the Avs take a dominant 3-1 lead and potentially never look back. Because Fleury answered the bell, he kept his team in position to come back and win the game.
BY THE NUMBERS
QUOTE OF THE GAME
"Five-on-three we could not score. We had a couple looks but we did not do enough to score. We need to score on those and make it a 3-1 game." -Head Coach Patrick Roy
The loss continues Colorado's home woes, dropping their home record to an embarrassing 4-7-1 and helps keep them a distant last place in the Central Division.
The Avalanche end their short two-game homestand and head back to the road yet again, this time beginning a three-game trip on Saturday, December 12 in Nashville at 6:00 PM MST.