Aftermath: Penguins 3, Avalanche 2 (OT)
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Kennedy Settling Into Expanded Role
Pittsburgh and Colorado played a fast-paced game that had a physical edge, trading opportune scoring chances throughout the course of the game. But in the end, it was the Penguins who came out on top 3-2 in overtime – getting their first victory in Colorado since Feb. 25, 1999.
The Penguins performed solidly all game, but the third period is where they really shined. The final 20 minutes was a textbook display of Dan Bylsma hockey, which is activating the defense, establishing offensive zone time and keeping their opponents on their heels. All four lines looked sharp, especially the trio of Brett Sterling, Jordan Staal and Nick Johnson.
The Penguins controlled play for most of that period and their battle level was sky high, forcing the Avalanche to take two penalties in the final frame and one in overtime – which opened the door for Tyler Kennedy to slam home a power-play goal with 50 seconds left to win the game for his team.
Both goalies had to be sharp early, and Marc-Andre Fleury was alert as ever. He ended the night with 29 stops and his save of the game came five minutes into the third period when he stoned Colorado’s Brandon Yip on a shorthanded breakaway. That save preserved the 2-2 deadlock and gave Pittsburgh momentum to eventually win the game in overtime.
STAR OF THE GAME
Forward Tyler Kennedy has been stepping up and providing an offense spark for the Penguins, who entered Thursday's tilt missing 52.9 percent (95 of 169) of their goal-scoring output from this season with injuries to key forwards.
He tallied his fifth goal in seven games on Thursday when he scored the game-winning goal for the Penguins with just 50 seconds remaining in overtime. Kevin Porter had gone off for tripping with 1:26 left in the extra period and the Penguins were pressuring hard on their 4-on-3 opportunity.
After Kris Letang made a leaping play to keep the puck in the zone, Pittsburgh attacked the net with a vengeance, but none of their blasts were solving Budaj – until a rebound on Alex Goligoski’s shot landed on the stick of a hovering Kennedy.
He wasted no time slamming the puck home to get the power-play goal. Kennedy finished the night with five shots through 17:54 of ice time.
HONORARY STAR: JOE VITALE
The Penguins got an opportune chance to take the lead when Ryan O'Byrne went to the box for tripping just over three minutes into the third period.
But the best chance of Pittsburgh’s power-play opportunity went to the Avalanche, when Brandon Yip embarked on a shorthanded breakaway.
Fleury came up with a huge save on the play, keeping the Avalanche from gaining a huge lift by scoring a shorthanded tally to go up a goal. It kept the score tied 2-2 and turned the tides the Penguins' way. Pittsburgh turned it on after that chance, going on to win the game 3-2 in overtime.
DENVER (AP) - Tyler Kennedy scored a power-play goal 4:10 into overtime and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots in the Pittsburgh Penguins' 3-2 victory Wednesday night that sent the Colorado Avalanche to their ninth straight loss.
Joe Vitale and Jordan Staal added goals for the injury-plagued Penguins, who snapped a two-game skid.
Kennedy knocked in a rebound after a shot from Alex Goligoski bounced to him off the pads of Peter Budaj. Kevin Porter was called for tripping moments before Kennedy's 12th goal of the season.
Chris Stewart and Cameron Gaunce scored for the Avalanche, who are in the midst of their longest skid since moving to Denver for the 1995-96 season.
- The Penguins earned their first win in Colorado since Feb. 25, 1999. With the win Wednesday, the Penguins snapped their five-game losing streak at Pepsi Center.
- Joe Vitale scored his first-career NHL goal with just 2:33 remaining in the first – a goal that would prove to be crucial in a game that went into overtime. He streaked into the slot, received a pass from fellow call-up Brett Sterling and promptly blasted the puck top shelf past Avalanche goalie Peter Budaj to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead. Vitale earned his first NHL point, an assist, on Feb. 11 versus the New York Islanders.
- Sterling notched his fourth point in as many games when he earned the primary helper on Vitale’s goal with a beauty of a feed. Since being recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Feb. 10, Sterling has notched two goals and two assists in his four games with Pittsburgh.
- He’s no stranger to the thin air in the mountainous state of Colorado, as Sterling played four seasons for Colorado College from 2002-06. The forward totaled 108 goals and 184 points in 149 contests in his collegiate career, finishing as a top-three finalist for the Hobey Baker Award (top collegiate player) in his junior campaign.
- Jordan Staal played yet another outstanding game for the Penguins. He scored the game-tying goal – his third in four games – to help power the Penguins to victory. He's now riding a four-game point streak and has logged 21-plus minutes in each of the last seven games, as he led the team with 24:26 minutes against Colorado.
- The Penguins fired 36 shots at Budaj, with Staal and Kennedy leading the way with five apiece. Zbynek Michalek and Mike Rupp each had four.
3 STARS OF THE GAME
#1. Tyler Kennedy
Forward - 48
GWG in OT
#2. Cameron Gaunce
Defenseman - 43
First NHL goal
2 blocked shots
#3. Joe Vitale
Forward - 46
First NHL goal
4 of 6 faceoffs (60%)
Author: Michelle Crechiolo