DENVER – Not even Sidney Crosby could stop the Colorado Avalanche at home.
John-Michael Liles scored one of Colorado’s three third-period goals to offset Crosby’s two scores and the Avalanche beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on Thursday night to remain unbeaten in their first six home games. The Avalanche matched the franchise record set in 1994-95, while the team was still in Quebec. Colorado and Philadelphia (4-0) are the only remaining NHL teams that are unbeaten at home.
“They have a lot of great players, but Crosby is the guy that gets them going,” Liles said. “We keyed on him and he slipped through our hands a couple of times, but we still came out on top.”
Crosby has seven goals and 17 assists during an 11-game point streak. He was held scoreless in the team’s season opener at Carolina.
“Crosby is a great, dynamic player,” Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. “He has some magic, is so strong and it’s so hard to take the puck away from him and yet we came away with a win.”
Wojtek Wolski and Ben Guite added goals for the Avalanche. Wolski has a career-best eight-game point streak.
Colorado goalie Jose Theodore stopped 25 shots.
Pittsburgh’s Danny Sabourin made 30 saves while making his 18th career start.
Pittsburgh has at least one power-play goal in all 12 games.
Colorado outshot the Penguins 12-9 in the first period, but trailed 1-0 on Crosby’s sixth goal of the year and some outstanding penalty killing. The Avalanche had a two-man advantage for a minute and 28 seconds early in the game, but managed only two shots in that span.
“It didn’t look good for us right then,” Quenneville said. “You can’t come away empty from a two-man power play advantage.”
And then Quenneville watched helplessly as Crosby began working his magic.
Skating to the left of the right post, Crosby sent a backhander through the crease that caught Brett Clark’s left skate an trickled past Theodore to make it 1-0 with 9:39 remaining in the first period.
“It just comes down to bounces because you need things to go right for you to have a streak like this,” Crosby said. “I mean tonight I got a goal off a guy’s skate.”
Sabourin used his mask to make his best save of the period. Marek Svatos’s wrist shot went off two players and Sabourin’s mask before bouncing to the corner with 6:25 left.
With Pittsburgh on the power play, Evgeni Malkin’s pass from the left circle set up Crosby’s second goal of the night with 1:53 left in the first. Crosby blasted a one-timer from the slot into the net.
“I got a great pass from Malkin,” Crosby said. “The guy that makes the pass ought to get a lot of credit too.”
The Avalanche tied the game at 2 in a span of 31 seconds in the second period and added a third goal to lead 3-2 after two periods.
Liles punched in a rebound under the Sabourin’s glove at 10:26. Wolski’s wrist shot from the left circle bounced up off Sabourin’s stick and off his shoulder into the net at 11:07.
Guite made it 3-2 with a wraparound goal at 13:56. Ryan Smyth passed to Guite while colliding with referee Steve Kozari behind the net.
Pittsburgh had its chances in the first 12 minutes of the third period. The Penguins had only one shot on goal on two power plays in the period.
The Penguins pulled Sabourin with 1:10 left in the game. They didn’t get a shot on goal the rest of the game.
Notes: The Penguins last played in Denver on March 3, 2003. … The game featured the NHL’s youngest captain, Crosby (20) and the oldest captain, Joe Sakic (38). … Penguins D Ryan Whitney was held out of the third period after injuring his groin. … Penguins C Maxime Talbot received stitches over his right eye during the second intermission. … Smyth played in his 800th game. … Sakic extended his point streak to six games.