Hörnqvist’s third period hat trick leads Penguins’ 6-3 downing of Avalanche

Dec 4, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) carries the puck against Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (58) during the first period at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Talk about dejá vu.

After dropping the Pittsburgh Penguins last week by the same score, the Colorado Avalanche received a taste of their own medicine by falling 6-3 to the Penguins at the PPG Paints Center Tuesday night.

Pittsburgh was powered by a third period hat trick performance from Penguins forward Patric Hörnqvist to split the regular season series against the Eastern Conferences foes.

Despite the loss, the Avs were able to put up plenty of offense by outshooting the Penguins 45-32 in the game. Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov finished the game with 25 saves.

From the drop of the puck, it was clear that the Penguins were on a mission as Jake Guentzel, Evgeni Malkin and Derick Brassard found the back of the net before the halfway mark of the first period. That gave the Penguins the quick 3-0 lead to close out the first frame.

“Obviously the first wasn’t good enough,” Avalanche forward J.T. Compher said after the loss, “I think we did continue to stay on their defense and create turnovers and create scoring chances for ourselves, but we didn’t do it for a full sixty tonight and that cost us two points.”

When being down by three goals at any time during a game, good teams are able to be opportunistic to get themselves back into it. For the Avalanche, they were able to accomplish this in the second period as Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie blasted a shot from the point to beat Casey DeSmith and get the Avalanche on the scoreboard. After Barrie was able to get the Avalanche going, veteran forward Carl Soderberg tallied a goal of his own to cut the deficit to one.

The Penguins found themselves on the power play as the second period continued to wind down looking to extend their lead. However, Colorado put a quick end to that way of thinking as Avs forward Matt Nieto stormed down the ice shorthanded to tally the equalizing goal going into the third period.

However, despite being able to make the game interesting by overcoming a three-goal deficit, the Penguins found an unlikely hero in Hörnqvist who tallied the natural hat-trick to lift Pittsburgh to the win.

“I think there is definitely some stuff that we can clean up from tonight. We had a few breakdowns defensively, and on the rush,” Compher said, “I also think that we did some good things, and showed a lot of resiliency going down 3-0 after the first and finding our way back into the hockey game.”

The Avalanche will look to have a quick rebound as they take on the Florida Panthers on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 5 p.m. MT on Altitude TV.

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