Avalanche overcome Crosby’s hat trick, extend winning streak to six

Nov 28, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Colin Wilson (22) celebrates with center Nathan MacKinnon (29) after scoring a goal in the second period against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After being able to extend their winning streak to five straight games with a 3-2 victory in Nashville on Tuesday night, the Colorado Avalanche kept the party going on Wednesday as they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3 at the Pepsi Center.

There was no way to tell that the Avalanche played only a night before, as they came out flying in the first period. It was only a matter of time before the dominant top line of the Avalanche was able to score, as Avs forward Mikko Rantanen fed a lone Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard in the slot, where he would blast a shot past Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry to give the Avs the 1-0 lead.

The second period was all about depth scoring for the Avalanche, as defenseman Erik Johnson and forward Colin Wilson each found the back of the net to give the Avalanche the firm, 3-0 advantage over the Penguins.

Over the past seven games, the Avalanche have been able to get plenty of blue-line scoring, netting six goals in the past seven games.

“I think that [defensive scoring] is a part of our game and part of playing fast; we want to get the D-man jumping up the ice and joining the offense,” Avs defenseman Mark Barberio said. “It’s a large part of our team identity.”

However, as many hockey fans know, a three-goal lead is the worst in the sport. The second period provided a perfect example, as the Penguins were able to score two quick goals from Penguins captain Sidney Crosby to cut the Avs’ lead to 3-2 heading into the final frame.

“The message was that, for the most part of the game, we were able to take it to them and [we were] controlling the play,” Barberio said about the message to the team in the locker room going into the third period. “It was sort of bad luck on the breakaway where Z [Nikita Zadarov] had a broken stick and Crosby was able to put his rebound home. His second goal was a good heads-up play by him to just put it on net.”

Crosby completed the hat trick in the early minutes of the third period to tie the game up at three goals each.

“The thing is that we didn’t really change how we played, even when they got the tying goal, we still wanted to keep pushing forward,” Barberio added, “and our captain came through with a big goal for us.”

With the top line of the Penguins coming up big, the Avs’ top three responded in kind when captain Gabriel Landeskog skated into the Penguins’ zone and fired a shot past Jarry to help his team retake the one-goal advantage.

As time continued to wind down in regulation, coupled with timely saves from Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer and solid defensive play, the Avs closed out the game with a Nathan MacKinnon empty-net goal and Carl Soderberg putting yet another puck past Jarry to help the Avalanche finish off the 6-3 victory.

The Avalanche will look to push their winning streak to seven straight games as they host the St. Louis Blues on Friday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“We have to keep rolling with the way that we have been playing,” Barberio said. “I think in every game during this winning streak, we have been the aggressor, and we have been playing really tight defensive hockey. We just can’t change the formula; it is working right now — and we have to keep it going.”

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