Penguins toppled by Avalanche, lose again

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Penguins 3 – Avalanche 5

Saturday afternoon’s game against the equally struggling Avalanche was a chance for the Penguins to bounce back from a heartbreaker in Nashville, and finally get back to their winning ways.  But this set of players and coaches do not seem to have that formula anymore.

The game started rather slowly, and midway through the first the Avalanche broke what seemed like the slowest game of ping-pong ever by scoring the first goal.  Ryan Smyth, who was tied up in front with Brooks Orpik, deflected a shot from Wojtek Wolski.  Dany Sabourin did not have much of a chance because of the screen from both players.

Sidney Crosby celebrates his goal along with Evgeni Malkin, Max Talbot and Ryan Whitney. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Sidney Crosby celebrates his goal along with Evgeni Malkin, Max Talbot and Ryan Whitney. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

A power play with six minutes left in the first gave the Pens a chance to get even against the 25th ranked penalty-killing unit in the league.  Ninety percent of the power play was dominated by Colorado, and it appeared as though the Pens would give up a shorthanded goal.  However, with only eight seconds remaining on the penalty, a perfect pass from Sidney Crosby allowed Evgeni Malkin to finally break through and score his first goal in 11 games.  This was only once piece of what seemed to be a flashback of the old Pens.

Going into the second period, the Pens had remained even with the Avalanche, and seemed that if they kept their mistakes to a minimum they could pull off a victory.  Unfortunately, Dany Sabourin and the Pens defense allowed multiple rebounds in front of the net and eventually led to a goal by David Jones.  Minutes later, it appeared as if the Avs would expand their lead when Sabourin was caught out of position and left a wide open net.  Fortunately, two shots went wide and then Penguins were able to keep the game within reach.

Soon after, Sidney Crosby scored on a wrister that snuck under goaltender Andrew Raycroft to even the score at two.  But the Avs did not take long to respond.  Less than two minutes later Wolski took advantage of another screen from Brooks Orpik and Milan Hejduk and snuck the puck by Sabu.  The score was then 3-2, and the Avs never looked back.

Four minutes later the Avs managed a mass scramble around Sabourin, and a shot took a loud ding off the post resulting in a premature goal horn in the Pepsi Center, but the Avs were not to be denied.  Cody McLeod riffled a slapper from near the blue line to expand the lead to two.

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Head Coach Michel Therrien decided to pull goaltender Dany Sabourin after the second period.  I did not quite understand this move, as two of the Colorado goals were not his fault.  Four goals in two periods is clearly poor, but in retrospect all the blame cannot be placed on the goaltender in this case.

More flashback moments continued in the third when Jordan Staal scored a shorthanded goal similar to his rookie campaign.  But just as the Penguins seemed to get within reach, the Avs managed to react quickly as they did after the second Pens goal.  Less than one minute later, the Avs scored on that very same power play, creating a 5-3 lead, and the eventual victory.

After the Pens’ second and third goals, the Avs managed to rebound quickly and score two goals of their own a combined 2:40 later.  Any momentum gained from those goals was lost immediately.

The only bright spot?  The Pens went 1-for-1 on the power play.

Doesn’t get much easier for the Pens.  Their next game is against division leader Philadelphia on Tuesday, followed by Southeast division leader Washington on Wednesday.

Dan | PPT

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