For the third game in a row, the Colorado Avalanche lost to a team from the Metropolitan Division. This time it was a 4-3 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The loss was Colorado’s sixth in their last eight games - a cold streak that has dropped the team’s record to 25-15-5 on the season.
The Avalanche started this one off well. They carried the play for a large portion of the first period and looked to have settled down after a couple of bad outings on the east coast. It was the struggling power play that finally got the Avs on the board as Nathan MacKinnon wired home a beautiful one-timer with a little more than five minutes remaining in the opening period. MacKinnon’s 27th goal of the season put him tied for third with Jack Eichel and gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead going into the first intermission.
Unfortunately, the Avs were able to build on the lead as they came out very flat in the second. Only able to generate one high-danger scoring chance in the period, the Avalanche finally coughed up the lead when Teddy Blueger tipped a cross-ice pass over the shoulder of Pavel Francouz to tie the game up at one.
Five minutes later, the Avalanche caught a lucky bounce - literally - as Gabriel Landeskog flipped the puck into Pittsburgh’s zone, only to have it take a weird hop to get past Matt Murray. The fluke goal re-established the one goal lead heading into the third period.
Landy totally meant to do that pic.twitter.com/Ho4YF1qMJ2— Mile High Hockey (@MileHighHockey) January 11, 2020
A slow start to the third cost the Avs. Brian Rust scored only a minute into the frame to tie the game at two. Colorado bounced back well, putting on a lot of pressure. Led by MacKinnon - who had four of his six shots over the next ten minutes - the Avalanche had their most successful run of the game but were unable to beat Matt Murray. Unfortunately, the tide turned as the Penguins game back with a push of their own. Evgeni Malkin did what superstars do as he beat Francouz to give the Pens their first lead of the game with four minutes remaining in regulation.
The Avalanche showed some resilience just to get a single point as Matt Calvert tied it up with only 31 seconds remaining to get the game to overtime. On the goal, Cale Makar got his 24th assist of the season, tying him with John Michael Liles for second all time for assists by an Avalanche rookie. Unfortunately, the comeback fell short when Jared McCann scored the OT winner to give the Penguins the 4-3 victory.
The Avalanche will continue their five-game home stand on Tuesday as they host the red hot Dallas Stars. It is the fourth and final meeting of the season between the Division rivals. A win will be very important to keep second place in the Central division within striking distance.