In the second stop of their four-game road trip, the Colorado Avalanche took on the Pittsburgh Penguins looking to extend their point streak to an even dozen. Unfortunately, the Penguins were able to hand Colorado their first regulation loss in more than three weeks - in a game that was eerily similar to the one these two teams played last week at the Pepsi Center.
It was a third period hat trick from Patric Hornqvist that turned an even game into a 6-3 victory for the Penguins. This one was an exciting one as the two teams took turns scoring three straight goals.
Let’s take a look at how this one went:
Avalanche put on the pressure early and had a few solid shots on Casey DeSmith but it was the Penguins who were able to draw first blood. Kris Letang reminded us why he is one of the best puck carriers in the game as he weaved his way through the Avs fourth line to set up Jake Guentzel for his 12th goal of the season. It looked like Guentzel might have kicked the puck into the net, but Jared Bednar decided there wasn’t enough evidence to challenge the goal. He definitely pushed the puck in with his stick, but there was no real “distinct kicking motion” so Bednar probably made the right choice by not asking for a review.
I don’t know, you be the judge:
A few minutes the Penguins were able to extend the lead as Evgeni Malkin tipped home a Tanner Pearson shot for his 10th goal of the season. They wouldn't stop there. Only thirty-five seconds after the Malkin goal, a Derick Brassard wrist shot found it’s way past Semyon Varlamov to give Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead before the eight minute mark of the game.
The Avs thought they were able to cut into the lead as J.T. Comper got one bast DeSmith on the powerplay, but the goal was called back after a review for goaltender. It was a tough one, but Carl Soderberg did make contact with DeSmith. There wasn’t a ton of contact, but it was the right call.
The Avs played better in the second half of the period but were unable to get on the board, going into the intermission with an impressive shot differential of 18-10 but trailing the Penguins 3-0.
The Avalanche came into the second putting on a ton of pressure and you could tell it would only be a matter of time before the broke the goose egg. With Kris Letang in the penalty box, Mikko Rantanen served up a perfect pass for Tyson Barrie who ripped an absolute rocket past DeSmith to cut the lead to 3-1.
Like the Penguins in the first, the Avalanche were able to ride momentum to a quick second goal when Carl Soderberg scored his ninth of the season.
The score was now 3-2 and the Avalanche had Pittsburgh on their heels. You could tell it was only a matter of time before they tied the game up - and it was exactly who you thought it would be...Matt Nieto? Shorthanded? Just how they drew it up. Nieto put a nice wrist shot past DeSmith’s blocker to even things up and put the game back to square one.
The two teams traded a few scoring chances - including a clear breakaway for Patric Hornqvist that was turned away by Varlomov - but neither was able to get another before the end of the period. The game went into the second intermission tied 3-3 with the promise of an exciting final 20 minutes.
Once again, the Avs came out flying to start the period, but DeSmith was able to turn away a number of great scoring chances. The Pittsburgh netminder held Colorado off the board long enough for the Pens to come to life. Or more accurately for Patric Hornqvist to come to life. Over a 2:47 span Hornqvist scored a natural hat trick to turn the tie game into a 6-3 lead for the Penguins. It was the 20th fastest hat trick in NHL history.
The 6-3 score would hold up for the final half of the period as the Avalanche suffered their first regulation loss since November 9th.
Now it’s off to Miami for a date with the Panthers Thursday night.