The Pittsburgh Penguins lost a hard fought battle against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night, despite taking a 2-0 lead after the first period on a pair of goals by Sidney Crosby. The Avalanche, winning by a score of 3-2, kept their home unbeaten streak alive at 6 games to match a Franchise record set set in 1994-95, while the team was still in Quebec.
Unlike many games so far this season, the Penguins came out looking very much ready to play in the first period. Despite being outshot 12-9 in the period and having to kill off a lengthy 5-on-3 on penalties to Staal and Crosby, goaltender Dany Sabourin really shined and kept the puck out of the Penguins net. The Pens bounced back after the shorthanded situation and were able to net 2-goals off from the stick of Sidney Crosby. The first goal came at 10:21 with Crosby streaking down the right side of the rink. He shot the puck in on net, but it deflected to the sideboards and then back on to his stick enabling hum to throw a backhander across the goal mouth. With Ryan Malone driving to the net, the puck deflected off from an Avalanche skate and into the far side of the net past Jose Theodore. Sergei Gonchar and Mark Eaton picked up the assists. At 18:07, the Penguins struck again on the man advantage and kept their power play streak alive. The Penguins, who came into the game 3rd in the league in power play effectiveness, have at least one power play goal in every game they have played so far this season. From the middle of the slot, Sidney Crosby took a beautiful pass from Evgeni Malkin along the boards and slapped the puck past Theodore to put the Penguins ahead 2-0. Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar assisted on the goal. The Penguins were 1 for 1 on the power play in the first and were perfect on the kill.
Midway through the second period, the Penguins fate changed after committing a too many men on the ice penalty. The Avalanche made the Penguins pay for the all too often error when John-Michael Liles drove the puck into the net on the power play at 10:26. Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth were credited with the assists. The goal proved to be the spark the Avs needed to swing the momentum in their direction. They capitalized again just 41 seconds later at 11:07 with Jose Theodore pulled from the net on a delayed penalty call to Sidney Crosby. Wojtek Wolski put the goal in the net to even the score at 2, with assists by Ian Laperriere and Ben Guite. Even though the goal negated the delayed penalty call on Crosby, he picked up an additional 2-minutes unsportsmanlike call for telling the referees what he thought of the original call. The Penguins were able to kill that penalty, but gave up a 3rd consecutive goal less than a minute after it expired. At 13:56, Ben Guite scored on the wrap around attempt despite Sabu hugging the post tightly. Assists went to Wyatt Smith and Ian Laperriere. The goal put the Avs up 3-2 and ended up being the game winner after a scoreless third period. The Avs outshot the Pens 14-7 in the second, but were outshot by the Pens in the third 12-7.
Despite the outcome, the Penguins played a very good road game against a tough team that was unbeaten at home. The Penguins mistakes midway through the second proved to be the key difference in the game, and Crosby’s unsportsmanlike call only served to extend the momentum gained by the Avalanche, which ultimately led to their game-winning goal. In the third, the Avs got a break late when Joe Sakic shot the puck into the crowd and was not called for the delay of game penalty. Had he been called, as he should have, it would have been the 2nd such call against Sakic in the period. Penguins Defenseman Ryan Whitney left the game in the 3rd period with a groin injury, and Maxime Talbot took stitches above his right eye after taking a puck to the face in the second period.
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The Pittsburgh Penguins travel to New York where they will take on the Islanders Saturday night, November 3rd, at 7PM. Be sure to check back here for the game preview report on Saturday morning. Yours truly is heading to the Caps-Flyers game on Friday night in DC with his family in honor of “Safety Patrol” night for my son. Looking for some good hockey action to keep us all entertained.