Crosby Four-Point Game, MacKinnon Extends Streaks, Avalanche Defeat Penguins in OT 5-4 | 3/24/2024

Photo: David Zalubowski

The Penguins had a strong start in the first and held that phenomenal effort throughout the majority of the second against the Avalanche on Sunday, March 24th at the Ball Arena. Colorado had been down 4-0, making their comeback to tie the game and they headed into overtime, Jonathan Drouin scored the game-winning goal for a 5-4 final. Sidney Crosby had a four-point game, scoring one goal and recording three assists. Nathan MacKinnon has a 76-point season-opening home streak (28 goals, 48 assists), being the second-longest in NHL history behind Wayne Gretzky. P.O Joseph scored his first goal of the season for Pittsburgh.

Penguins lineup against the Avalanche:

O’Connor – Crosby – Rust

Bunting – Malkin – Rakell

Smith – Eller – Puustinen

Bemstrom – Acciari – Puljujarvi

Joseph – Letang

Pettersson – Karlsson

Ludvig – St. Ivany

Nedeljkovic

Jarry

Avalanche lineup against the Devils:

Nichushkin – MacKinnon – Rantanen

Lehkonen – Mittelstadt – Drouin

Wood – Colton – Parise

Duhaime – Trenin – Cogliano

Toews – Makar

Girard – Manson

Johnson – Walker

Georgiev

Annunen

   Jesse Puljujarvi scored the first goal of the game to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead with his second of the season at 12:07 of the first frame. He took a loose puck a sent it in past Alexandar Georgiev. With 4:49 remaining, Bryan Rust extended the Penguins’ lead to 2-0 after receiving a pass from Sidney Crosby. Rust had gone around Josh Manson, cut across the crease, and crammed it in.

   Late into the middle at 6:13, Sidney Crosby made it a 3-0 lead for Pittsburgh with his 34th goal of the season at the right side of the net when he deflected Valtteri Puustinen’s pass from the red line. Pierre-Olivier Joseph put the Penguins up 4-0 when he sent his first of the season through a screen from inside the blue line… Sean Walker scored to put Colorado on the board just 25 seconds later from above the right circle with a wrister he sent through a screen. With just seconds remaining in the second, Yakov Trenin struck his 11th of the season to cut the Penguins’ lead to 4-2 with a deflection of Brandon Duhaime’s original shot.

   Early into the third at 16:28, Jonathan Drouin one-timed Nathan MacKinnon’s pass at the right face-off dot to cut it to 4-3. MacKinnon tied it 4-4 later at 4:38 with a one-timer off a crossing pass by Drouin, short side on Tristan Jarry.

   Jonathan Drouin scored his second of the game and his 14th of the season just 54 seconds into overtime. He waited out the poke check from Alex Nedeljkovic after beating Kris Letang on the outside for the 5-4 final.

Bryan Rust on how the team played and the loss: “We played hard, I just don’t think we were on our toes enough. They pushed and I thought we were a bit too passive – If you could see by the first half of the game, we played on their toes and in their face and if we can do that, we can be better than any team. I think when we play passive and don’t play in their face, that’s when things go the wrong way.”

Alex Nedeljkovic on the game against the Avalanche: “We played good enough to win that game. I mean, they’re a really good hockey team to hold them to four shots in the first period… We have four-nothing with four to play in the second period and to not come away with two points – it’s pretty disappointing.”

Notes:

– Alex Nedeljkovic made 21 saves for Pittsburgh, and Tristan Jarry had replaced Nedeljkovic for a small amount of time, allowing one on five shots. Alexandar Georgiev made 30 saves for Colorado.

– Sidney Crosby has the eighth-most even-strength points in NHL history. He (584 goals) had also passed Wayne Gretzky (583) for the seventh-most goals with a single franchise in NHL history. Crosby also became the first active player and the ninth in NHL history to have 14 or more 70-point seasons… He recorded his 1,008th career point (409 goals, 599 assists in 1,260 games), and he passed Phil Esposito (1,006 points; 448 goals, 558 assists in 1,282) for sole possession of eighth place in NHL history.

– With a goal and two assists, Nathan MacKinnon extended his point streak to 18 games and his home streak to 34. He has 122 points this season (44 goals, 78 assists), moving past Joe Sakic (120 points in 1995-96) for the most in a season in Avalanche history. Peter Stastny holds the franchise record with 139 for the Quebec Nordiques in 1981-82.

– Jonathan Drouin scored two goals and recorded an assist.

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