DENVER — Jared McCann scored at 3:19 of overtime to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-3 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Friday.
Teddy Blueger passed from the right face-off circle to McCann in the slot for a shot through defenseman Erik Johnson‘s legs and past goalie Pavel Francouz.
“Obviously, the team’s been playing hard as of late and we’ve earned these last couple games,” said McCann, referring to a 4-3 win against the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday.
The Avalanche tied the game 3-3 with 31 seconds left in the third period when Matt Calvert tipped in Cale Makar‘s shot with Francouz off for the extra attacker.
“I just threw it on net,” Makar said. “Calvert made an unreal tap-in. Yeah, it’s a tough way to lose in overtime. Obviously, we get the one point, but we came here for two.”
Evgeni Malkin gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead with 4:17 remaining. He scored from the right circle through a screen off a pass from Dominik Kahun, who had three assists.
Matt Murray made 28 saves for Pittsburgh (27-12-5), which is 6-1-1 in its past eight games.
“It was another really gritty, hard win, and that’s what we needed tonight,” Murray said. “That’s a really good team over there, so we just stayed resilient no matter what happened.”
Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog scored for the Avalanche (25-15-5), who are 0-2-1 in their past three games. Francouz made 26 saves in the first of a five-game homestand for Colorado.
“I think it’s great for us that we were able to bounce back and tie it with the empty net,” Francouz said. “It’s a good point, but I think we deserved two points.”
MacKinnon scored on the power play to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead at 14:38 of the first period. Samuel Girard passed to MacKinnon in the left circle for a one-timer inside the near post.
Blueger tied it 1-1 at 13:29 of the second. John Marino‘s shot from the right circle deflected off Kahun to Blueger to the left of the net for a shot that beat Francouz short side six seconds after a Pittsburgh power play expired.
Landeskog made it 2-1 at 18:20 of the second when he lofted the puck from outside the Penguins blue line and it bounced past Murray’s left arm into the net.
“That’s a tough read, I can’t really expect that kind of bounce,” Murray said. “I’m just trying to get out and play and settle it down so our defense can make the play, and it bounced sideways on me. I just brushed it off as quickly as I could.”
Bryan Rust tied it 2-2 for the Penguins at 1:14 of the third. After Francouz made the save against Malkin, Rust got the rebound, circled above the right hash marks, and scored with a five-hole shot.
“You give any team in this league just one opportunity, they are going to take advantage of it,” Makar said. “It’s unfortunate for us they did tonight. I mean, it’s just a learning curve for us. We can’t give that up in the third period, and for us, it’s definitely not a confidence builder when we drop games like that.”
A goal by Malkin at 16:34 of the first period was waved off because Rust interfered with Francouz.
They said it
“I just think it’s attention to detail. When you don’t have the puck, you have to defend. I tell the guys all the time, hope’s not a strategy. We can’t hope that we’re going to win a puck battle. We’ve got to make sure we defend and we’re diligent in limiting our opponent’s opportunities.” — Penguins coach Mike Sullivan on playing in overtime
“We competed hard. We’re doing the right things, and then we’re a step late here and there. We have to be better talking and communicating on the ice. That solves a lot of problems, eliminates confusion where guys aren’t guessing. I wish we were a more vocal team.” — Avalanche coach Jared Bednar
Need to know
Penguins center Sidney Crosby, who is recovering from core muscle surgery, was scheduled to skate Friday morning, but he was ill and stayed off the ice. He has missed 27 games. … Pittsburgh has won four straight road games. … Rust has 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) in the past 14 games. He matched his NHL career high for goals with his 18th in his 30th game. He scored 18 in 72 games last season. … Malkin has 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) in his past 14 games. … Colorado is 1-4-1 in its past six home games. … MacKinnon has 10 points (five goals, five assists) in the past six games. … Girard, who played his 200th NHL game, has 11 assists in the past six games.
Penguins: At the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday (6 p.m. ET; ESPN+, FS-A PLUS, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV)
Avalanche: Host the Dallas Stars on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; ESPN+, ALT, FS-SW+, NHL.TV)