The Colorado Avalanche got two goals from defenseman Tyson Barrie, and the Penguins didn’t get over their Rocky Mountain high until it was too late. JT Compher and Sven Andrighetto also lit the offense for the Avalanche, who smoked the Penguins 4-2.
The first period was a firewagon hockey. The teams traded chances, but the Avalanche had the better of the deal. Just 30 seconds into the game, a Sidney Crosby turnover led to an Avalanche two-on-one, but Mikko Rantanen missed the net.
Crosby had three turnovers, Monday night.
A couple of moments later, a Matt Hunwick turnover forced Penguins goalie Matt Murray to make a spectacular pad save on Andrighetto. However, Andrighetto and his linemate Compher continued to create chances.
Compher beat Matt Murray’s glove hand but rang the post midway through the opening period. Compher also had a goal waived off with five minutes remaining in the period.
The second period was more of the same. Barrie scored another goal, and the combination of Andrighetto-Compher was dynamic. They dominated the Riley Sheahan line.
Barrie got a puck through traffic from the point. It was a power-play goal.
The rest of the period belonged to former Montreal Canadiens cast-off Andrighetto and Compher. Compher did miss the shot on a 3-on-0 early in the period. No, that’s not a typo–a THREE-on-ZERO.
Compher took advantage of a sloppy Penguins power play and a poor pass from Kris Letang. Compher pushed the play for a 2-on-1 and drew a tripping call from Letang to negate the Penguins power play.
The Northbrook, IL native finally lit the lamp at 18:20. Andrighetto raced past the Penguins during a Penguins line change to create yet another 2-on-1. Olli Maatta couldn’t catch the play. Murray made the initial save on Andrighetto, but Compher swatted the puck out of the air into the net.
Chad Ruhwedel scored his first goal of the season. It was a softy, but it counted. Ruhwedel’s long wrister from the wall dribbled thought Varlamov and rolled across the line.
Sidney Crosby didn’t have a shot and was dominated by the Avalanche top line. Without Patric Hornqvist, the Penguins top three lines were a mish-mash of “this should work,” but none of it did.
Also, Carl Hagelin, Riley Sheahan, Tom Kuhnhackl were the trio primarily dominated by Compher and Andrighetto.
The line which did work for the Penguins was the fourth line. Josh Archibald played his first game since November 22 and was a noticeable and positive force. Archibald single-handedly resurrected the Penguins once great forecheck. His puck tenacity created offensive chances for Ryan Reaves, who clanged the post midway through the third period.
Archibald nearly scored in the second period. His wrist shot trickled through Semyon Varlamov but settled on the goal line.
Our John Perrotto spoke with Archbald a couple of weeks ago. He’s been itching for his chance. Read that here. Great stuff.
Evgeni Malkin was also good, usually. He scored the Penguins second goal and other strong opportunities, but Malkin also allowed his counterpart, Carl Soderberg, free access to Matt Murray. That’s not good enough, either.
Matt Murray should find Marc-Andre Fleury’s clothespins because now he’s being hung out to dry. He was great against Colorado.
The Penguins terrible puck decisions are causing turnovers and odd-man breaks. The Penguins defense, led by Kris Letang, are spotting opponents a handful of high danger scoring chances.
Matt Hunwick has been bad, and Ian Cole took poor penalties.
Ignore the stats–the Penguins had more scoring chances than the Avalanche after the first period, 14-12. No set of objective eyes would take the Penguins 14 chances over the Avalanche 12 chances.
It appeared the Penguins were making poor line changes, which gave the Avalanche odd-man breaks, but it was weak puck decisions. The Penguins turned the puck over or failed to get it deep several times.
It’s a head-scratcher. Mike Tomlin’s benchmark saying is–you are what your record says you are. The Penguins who are nestled outside the playoff picture just squandered a homestand and lost two of three on the road trip.
Answers aren’t easy. For every attempt at a blockbuster, is a dud. Ask Matt Duchene and the Ottawa Senators.