Crosby reaches 30-goal mark, Penguins knock off Avs 5-2
DENVER (AP) — Jeff Carter had a pair of goals, Sidney Crosby scored on a nifty backhand shot in the second period to reach the 30-goal mark for an 11th season and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 on Wednesday night.
Crosby moved into a tie with Hall-of-Fame center Mario Lemieux for the most 30-goal seasons in Penguins history. Even more, Crosby's the first player in league history to post a 30-goal campaign at 18 years old and again when he was 35-plus, according to NHL Stats.
Jake Guentzel also scored and Bryan Rust added an empty-net goal for the Penguins, who snapped a four-game slide and moved back into a wild-card spot in the East. They’re trying to extend their playoff streak to 17 straight seasons.
Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry stopped 28 shots in improving to 11-4 this season against teams from the Western Conference.
J.T. Compher and Devon Toews had goals for the Avalanche, whose six-game winning streak was halted. Nathan MacKinnon had an assist to extend his home points streak to 18 games.
Alexandar Georgiev made 40 saves, including several critical ones in a second period controlled by the Penguins, who outshot the Avalanche by a 21-9 margin. It could've been more than a 3-1 deficit heading into the third period.
Toews' power-play goal made it 3-2 with 9:12 remaining. But Carter wrapped up the win with his first multigoal game in the regular season since Jan. 11, 2022.
Penguins standout Evgeni Malkin assisted on Guentzel's goal to reach the 50-assist mark for a seventh time in his career.
Avalanche coach Jared Bednar was appreciative of the three-year extension he signed Tuesday that goes through the 2026-27 season. In his seventh season, he’s the third-longest tenured coach in the NHL behind Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper (March 2013) and Pittsburgh’s Mike Sullivan (December 2015).
“It’s not a forgiving league or sport, for the most part, but obviously that’s part of the reason why I’m so grateful and thankful,” Bednar said. “Because there were times over my tenure that got a little hairy and management could have made another decision. But obviously they didn’t.”
AROUND THE RINK
Avalanche D Cale Makar missed a second straight game with a lower body injury. “I still have him as day-to-day," Bednar said. ... F Darren Helm returned after missing 64 of 69 games this season with a lower-body injury. ... Penguins D Jeff Petry (upper body) skated in the morning but sat out his third straight game. ... The Penguins are 11-1 against the Central Division this season.
Penguins: At Dallas on Thursday night.
Avalanche: Host Arizona on Friday night.
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Pat Graham, The Associated Press