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Postgame Wrap-Up: Avs Comeback Falls Short In Pittsburgh

Avalanche falls to Penguins on Tuesday

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele /

PITTSBURGH--The Colorado Avalanche fought its way back after trailing 3-0 early at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, but nonetheless it wasn't enough to get the win.

Tyson Barrie, Carl Soderberg and Matt Nieto tallied goals to erase the deficit in the second period, but the Penguins responded in the third to ultimately defeat the Avs 6-3 at PPG Paints Arena.

"That was a slow start, we spotted them three. We fought all the way back and erased that deficit," said head coach Jared Bednar. "Its 3-3 and we had a bunch of chances to go up in the game I felt like. We traded some, but I felt like we were still playing real well. They got their power-play goal and ended up bagging two more right after that on plays that we probably could have been better with on the puck."

The game was almost a flipped script of what happened when the teams met in Denver last Wednesday. In that contest, Colorado jumped out to a 3-0 lead and Pittsburgh came back to tie it at 3-3. The Avs ended up winning that game 6-3 after scoring three third period tallies, something they were trying to prevent the Penguins from doing in the final meetingof the season between the clubs.

"I think there is definitely some stuff we can clean up from tonight, a few breakdowns defensively in our own zone, on the rush. I also think we did some good things," J.T. Compher said. "Showed a lot of resiliency after going down 3-0 after the first and fighting our way back into the hockey game."

Video: Compher after the loss in Pittsburgh

Barrie got the Avs started offensively with a power-play marker 8:16 into the second frame. He was playing in his first game since Nov. 24, as he missed the team's last four outings with a lower-body injury.

Soderberg netted Colorado's next goal and Nieto completed the comeback with the fourth short-handed tally of his career. 

Colorado recorded 18 shots in the first frame and finished the outing with 45 overall, a season high and the team's most since Dec. 31, 2017 against the New York Islanders. 

"Erase seven and a half minutes out of that game and I liked what I saw on both sides of the puck," Bednar said of his team's performance. "The reason we were getting those chances and those shots even in the first period and scoring chances and why we came back in the second is because we were playing the right way. We didn't manage the puck very well [during those seven minutes], we turned the puck over a handful of times. 

"I have four of our goals against on turnovers, one off a faceoff and one on the power play. So, we have to do a better job at taking care of the puck on some of those breakouts and winning some of those wall battles that they beat us to the net on."

The outcome of the game is Colorado's first regulation loss since Nov. 9 at the Winnipeg Jets, 25 days ago. The Avs had at least a point in each of its previous 11 games, going 9-0-2 during the stretch, and had won six straight on the road.

"We have to have a short memory, that's what we have been preaching when we have been 9-0-2," said Bednar. "I don't care what they did yesterday or the day before and the week before that, I am worried about the next game and that's the way our whole team thinks and that's the way we approach it. It's why we have been able to sustain the point streak, and now we have lost and the message doesn't change. Its consistent. 

"We want to make sure that we respond and get back at it the next game. There will be a lot of good stuff out of that game that we really like, but there are some turnovers in the seven-minute stretch at the start of the game and two or three minutes in the third there where we have to better than what we were if we want to win. We gave up some home-run plays there, and we have to be better than that."

Video: Jared Bednar after the loss to the Penguins

ROAD TRIP CONTINUES: Colorado continues its four-game road trip on Thursday at the Florida Panthers and concludes the journey at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday.

This trip finishes a stretch that had the Avalanche playing 19-of-28 away from home. After it has been completed, the Avs will be nearly halfway done with their road schedule.

Colorado is 9-3-2 against the Eastern Conference this season, including a 5-2-1 mark as the visiting team. 

MIKKO'S POINT STREAK: Mikko Rantanen finished with an assist to extend his point streak to nine games, matching a season and career high.

His streak is also currently the second-longest active streak in the NHL. Rantanen's 35 assists rank tops among all NHL skaters, and he also remains atop the league with 46 points.

The 22-year-old right wing has held at least a share of the NHL scoring lead for each of the last 44 days since the morning of Oct. 23. He's been the outright leader for 38 of those 44 days. 

COLE BACK AT PPG PAINTS: Avalanche defenseman Ian Cole spent parts of four season with Pittsburgh and the contest was his first back at PPG Paints Arena since he was traded to the Ottawa Senators last February.

He won back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships with Pittsburgh in 2016 and 2017. Both benches and the crowd applauded to recognize him as Penguins played a tribute video for Cole at the first television timeout in the opening period.

Cole finished the night with one assist and nine shot attempts in 20:23 of ice time.

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