Kennedy’s Late OT Goal Lifts Penguins Over Avs
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.
With the Avalanche down a man early in the third period, Brandon Yip corralled a loose puck and skated in on a breakaway. But he sent his backhanded shot into the chest of Fleury.
Later in the period, Paul Martin clanged a shot off the post.
Colorado tied the game in the second period on Stewart’s goal — his second since returning from a broken hand on Jan. 14 — and then took a 2-1 lead when Gaunce knocked in a shot from the blue line, the first goal of his NHL career.
The lead lasted only 32 seconds as Pittsburgh quickly countered on Staal’s sixth goal.
The play was set up by a pass from Nick Johnson, who moments earlier headed for the dressing room after taking a flurry of punches from Ryan Wilson.
Pittsburgh also killed back-to-back penalties late in the second period, including a brief 5-on-3 advantage that lasted 38 seconds.
An up-tempo first period featured plenty of end-to-end action and hard hits along the boards, but only one score. Vitale recorded his first NHL goal when he beat Budaj with a high wrist shot.
The Avalanche were without leading scorer Matt Duchene, who is sidelined indefinitely after hurting his hand in a 9-1 loss to Calgary on Monday. The All-Star forward has 21 goals and 26 assists.
This was the latest blow to a reeling squad that is missing captain Adam Foote (leg) for at least another week and T.J. Galiardi (forearm) for possibly two months.
They also had Peter Forsberg pull the plug on a comeback bid Monday after just two games. The team insisted the Swedish star’s presence wasn’t a distraction, but it dropped nine of 10 since Forsberg began skating with the club on Jan. 22.
“We don’t feel sorry for ourselves,” coach Joe Sacco said after the morning skate. “No one else certainly will.”
Least of all the Penguins, who have been plagued by their own health woes, along with suspensions.
Sidney Crosby remains out indefinitely because of a concussion, while Evgeni Malkin is done for the season due to a knee injury. Forwards Arron Asham, Mike Comrie, Chris Kunitz, Mark Letestu and Eric Tangradi are also sidelined.
On Wednesday, hard hitter Matt Cooke served the last of a four-game suspension for a hit on Columbus defenseman Fedor Tyutin. Eric Godard also sat out the second of a 10-game ban for leaving the bench to join a fight against the New York Islanders last week.
Once in the thick of the playoff race, the Avs have tumbled to near the bottom of the Western Conference.
Asked if he’s concerned about his job security, Sacco responded: “I don’t worry about that. I worry about preparing the guys.”
Notes: Former Avs coach Tony Granato made a return to Colorado as an assistant with the Penguins. “I was here for seven years and I loved every second of it,” he said. … This was the Penguins’ first road win over the Avalanche since Feb. 25, 1999.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)