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Avalanche Overcome Four Goal Deficit, Come Back To Beat Penguins 5-4 In Overtime

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If you haven’t learned by now to never turn off a Colorado Avalanche game, you learned the hard way on Sunday afternoon.

Down four goals halfway through the game, thanks in part to a superhuman effort from Sidney Crosby, the Avalanche erased that four goal deficit for just the third time in franchise history, beating the Penguins in overtime by a score of 5-4. The comeback was a total team effort, as the depth players started it and the star players finished it off, with Jonathan Drouin tallying the overtime winner just 54 seconds into the extra frame.

Nathan MacKinnon picked up three points, extending his home point streak to 34 games, and passing Joe Sakic for the all-time Avalanche franchise record for points in a season. Drouin added three points of his own, and Devon Toews picked up two assists.

Alexandar Georgiev picked up another win, stopping 30 shots on the afternoon.

First Period

Avalanche fans, look away – the first period might have been Colorado’s worst period in months.

Pittsburgh won every battle to the puck, outworked the Avalanche, and earned every inch on the ice. Pittsburgh generated more shots on goal in period one than the Avalanche did shot attempts. It was a beatdown, and the Penguins deserved to be the team leading after 20 minutes, which they were.

Colorado got the only powerplay of the first, but it was certainly their worst powerplay in a very long time. Puljujarvi came out of the box and immediately got a rush, but his weak shot from the wing was stopped by Georgiev. The Avalanche goaltender let a big rebound out, and Puljujarvi beat Toews to it, maintaining possession. He would be rewarded shortly after, as a Crosby backhand shot hit Georgiev, and bounced into the crease, where Puljujarvi smacked it home.

Eight minutes later, Crosby terrorized the Avalanche some more. Just moments after Georgiev robbed Bryan Rust, the puck came back the other way, thanks to Crosby stealing it away from Mikko Rantanen. Rust got the puck and went around Josh Manson, cutting to the front of the net and beating a stretched-out Georgiev, making it 2-0.

A very sleepy period from Colorado, but they’re used to coming from behind at this point in the season. Could they do it again?

Second Period

It sure didn’t look like it early.

While the Avalanche did have a bit more jump, the Penguins were still sustaining a decent amount of pressure in Colorado’s end. The Avalanche might have had some of their best chances on a penalty kill halfway through the period, when Brandon Duhaime hit a post. Right after that, Nedeljkovic robbed Nichushkin with his toe, keeping the score the same.

The rest of the second was pure chaos, and it all started with Sidney Crosby doing something only Sidney Crosby can do. After he was robbed on a two-on-one by Georgiev, he moved to the side of the net. Puustinen sent a pass down to him on the goal line, and Crosby re-directed the puck right under the cross-bar from an impossible angle, making it 3-0. Two minutes later, a point shot from Joseph got through traffic, making it 4-0. It looked like the rout was on for Pittsburgh, but not so fast.

Colorado’s top six wasn’t having the best night, but their bottom six went to work the rest of the period.

It started with the third line, which was probably their most consistent line. Ross Colton defended Crosby well at the blueline, leading to a rush the other way. The puck eventually came to a wide open Sean Walker at the point, who beat Nedeljkovic through a screen, getting the Avalanche back into the game.

Three minutes later, the fourth line got in on the fun. A turnover right in front of the Penguins net went to Brandon Duhaime. He let a shot go through a screen, and it trickled into the back of the net, making it 4-2. The goal was later credited to Yakov Trenin, his first in an Avalanche uniform.

With just seconds left in the period, Nathan MacKinnon burst through the defense, but couldn’t get enough on the shot to beat Nedeljkovic. An angry MacKinnon felt he was hooked, and the replays showed he probably was, but no call was made.

Third Period

That no-call may have pissed MacKinnon off, because from that point forward, it was his game.

And his buddy Jonathan Drouin’s.

The two friends, who spend countless time before and after practice sending each other one-timers, connected for two in the third period to even this game up.

First, it was Jonathan Drouin sneaking away from coverage three minutes into the period. MacKinnon sent a cross-ice pass to Drouin, who wired one past Nedeljkovic to make it a one goal game. With under five minutes remaining, the comeback was completed, and a record was broken.

In a reversal of the third goal, Drouin, from the right hash, sent a pass across the ice to MacKinnon, who blasted the puck past Tristan Jarry, who had only recently come into the game because of an injury to Nedeljkovic. Just like that, the Avalanche had eradicated the Penguins lead, and MacKinnon had picked up his 121st point of the year, passing Joe Sakic for the all-time franchise record for points in a season.

But wait, there’s more.

Overtime

In the extra period, the Penguins never touched the puck. The Avalanche won the opening face-off and put an end to the game. It took a minute, mostly because the Avalanche wanted the perfect play, and they found it.

Cale Makar hit a streaking Jonathan Drouin in the neutral zone, and the winger burst past Kris Letang, avoided the poke-check, and beat Nedeljkovic to give the Avalanche the 5-4 overtime win. The crowd went nuts as Colorado made it nine straight victories, extending their Central Division lead.

They’ll look to make it 10 on Tuesday, when the Montreal Canadiens come to town. That game starts at 7 PM MST.

Colorado's premier coverage of the Avalanche from professional hockey people. Evan Rawal, Editor-in-Chief. Part of the National Hockey Now family.

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