Penguins fall to Avalanche
Penguins goalie Dany Sabourin, center, stops a shot off the stick of Colorado Avalanche's Joe Sakic, far right, as Penguins center Sidney Crosby, far left, comes in to cover with Avalanche left winger Andrew Brunette, second from left, in the first period of last night's hockey game in Denver.
Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, front, pins Colorado Avalanche left winger Andrew Brunette to the boards while fighting for control of the puck in the first period last night's game in Denver.
Penguins center Sidney Crosby, center, checks Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny into the boards as Penguins right winger Petr Sykora, front, of the Czech Republic, comes in to pick up the loose puck in the third period of the Avalanche's 3-2 victory last night in Denver.
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins warms up prior to facing the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center in Denver last night.
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DENVER -- The Pepsi Center was one of the five NHL rinks where Sidney Crosby had not played before this season, and, in the first period of his first visit, he did not disappoint those wanting a show by picking up a couple early goals.
Colorado, though, showed its fans something more familiar and ultimately more satisfying.
The Avalanche is difficult to beat at home and proved it by turning this game around in a hurry.
It took just a span of 312 minutes in the second period for Colorado to score three times. That was all the scoring it got and all it needed to beat the Penguins, 3-2, in front of 18,007 last night and run its home record to 6-0.
- Game: Penguins vs. Islanders, 7 p.m.
- Where: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y.
- TV: FSN Pittsburgh.
"That's all it takes sometimes, just a short little span of breakdowns," Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton said. "It can cost you a game. Case in point tonight."
The Penguins are on their first extended road trip and are 1-1 halfway through an eight-day, four-game trip.
They played most of the game short a defenseman and without one of the top point men on the power after Ryan Whitney left with a groin injury. His status for the second half of the four-game road trip is uncertain.
Crosby's two goals, one even strength and one on a power play, gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead and gave him a career-high 11-game point streak. With 19 points, he is moving up the list of the NHL's leading scorers.
He did not get a lot of offensive help beyond the top line, though, and that left the Penguins unable to counter Colorado's comeback.
"They're an offensive team that can explode like that," Crosby said.
It was not the players who dominate the Colorado statistics or play on the top lines who scored, though; no Joe Sakic, Ryan Smyth or Paul Stastny. Defenseman John-Michael Liles and winger Ben Guite, with the winner, each picked up his first goal of the season. Winger Wojtek Wolski scored his fifth.
The Avalanche has never started better at home, and they tied the franchise record for home starts dating to the franchise's days as the Quebec Nordiques.
Colorado squandered a 5-on-3 power play that lasted 1:28 early in the first period, something that coach Joel Quenneville thought would haunt his team.
"You miss your five-on-three opportunity in the game, you don't generally come back from those outings," he said.
Crosby opened the scoring at 10:21 of the first period. After his shot went wide, he collected the puck off the end boards and backhanded it toward the net, where linemate Ryan Malone was waiting. Before Malone could take a stab at the pass, the puck glanced off Colorado defenseman Brett Clark's skate and past goaltender Jose Theodore.
Crosby's second goal, at 18:07 of the first period, was less grit and more dazzle. With Avalanche defenseman Scott Hannon in the penalty box for holding Maxime Talbot, Crosby whipped the puck past Theodore from just above the hash marks in the slot for a power-play goal.
Colorado constantly peppered Penguins backup goaltender Dany Sabourin, who was making his second start in a row and made 30 saves.
The Avalanche broke through in the second period.
Liles scored on a power play at 10:26, poking a puck that was rattling around the crease after a shot by Sakic. Forty-one seconds later, Wolski tied it, 2-2, when his shot bounced off Sabourin's stick and up, over and behind the goaltender.
At 13:56, Guite scored on a backhand on a wraparound to give Colorado a 3-2 lead.
"That's what happens when you don't play your game against a good team like this -- the goals can come in a hurry," said Sabourin. "Every goal that goes in, I think it's my fault."
Crosby said the blame was widespread.
"We just had some breakdowns in our own end," he said. "When you play 60 minutes, you might lose momentum for a shift, maybe two, but the next line out there picks it up and gains it back. Unfortunately, we didn't do that."
The Penguins peppered Theodore with 12 shots in the third period.
"I thought we got our opportunities in the third, but we couldn't capitalize on it," coach Michel Therrien said.
First Published November 2, 2007 12:10 am