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Bennett scores twice, Penguins rally past Avalanche

by Rick Sadowski / NHL.com

DENVER -- Beau Bennett scored two of the Pittsburgh Penguins' three goals during a 3:24 span of the third period in a 4-2 come-from-behind win against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Wednesday.

"Beau was good," Penguins coach Mike Johnston said. "I don't know how many hits he had, but Beau, when he's competing, his skills will start to take over and he got some open ice. I thought that line was really good tonight."

Bennett had six of the Penguins' 33 shots, while Chris Kunitz had three shots and an assist, and Sidney Crosby two shots and an assist.

"We knew if we kept on them like that, we were going to get our chances," said Bennett, who played parts of two seasons at the University of Denver. "We had a lot of chances in the second [period], we just weren't burying any of them. So it was good to stay on them and probably could have had a couple more."

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves for the Penguins (15-10-2), who finished 2-2-0 on a four-game road trip.

Bennett tied the game 2-2 at 7:19 of the third period, slipping a backhander into a half-open net shortly after the Penguins finished killing off back-to-back Avalanche power plays, including a 5-on-3 advantage for 36 seconds.

"They let me walk towards the middle and the goalie didn't adjust," Bennett said. "It was kind of the same play I had in Anaheim [in a 2-1 loss Sunday] where I hit the post. I was fortunate to get this one in."

Patric Hornqvist’s goal at 9:24 put the Penguins in front to stay. Defenseman Olli Maatta took a shot from below the right circle that hit goalie Avalanche Reto Berra, popped into the air with several players in front and Hornqvist deflected the puck into the net.

Colorado coach Patrick Roy used his coach's challenge, believing Berra was interfered with on the play, but the goal stood.

"I won't make the judgment is it the right call or a bad call," Roy said. "To me, if the guy cross-checks our defenseman into our goalie and he's incapable of making the save because of it, for me it's goalie interference. But maybe for someone else it might be a hockey play."

Bennett scored again at 10:43 off the rush, beating Berra to the stick side with a shot from the right circle.

"It was one of those games where you knew if you stuck with it you were going to get some opportunities," Johnston said. "The second period we controlled the play below the circles and the offensive zone. That's how we wanted to play them. Then you get a penalty and you get a 5-on-3 call and all of a sudden now you've got a monstrous penalty kill. I think that was the turning point in the game."

The Avalanche agreed. They've had problems with two-man advantages all season and went 0-for-5 on power plays Wednesday. They've failed to score on 13 consecutive power plays in their past six games.

"They did a good job on the kill," Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon said. "We had some chances. Fleury made some good saves on us. It's always tough to not score [on a 5-on-3]. It's tough, then they come right down and score to tie it 2-2. I thought they dominated us in the second period as well. It's frustrating."

The Avalanche (12-16-1) split two games at home, where they have a 4-7-1 record.

Colorado grabbed a 2-1 lead in the first period on goals by Matt Duchene and Erik Johnson. Matt Cullen scored for the Penguins.

Duchene opened the scoring at 5:34 with his 15th goal of the season. MacKinnon carried the puck into the Penguins' end on right wing and took a shot that defenseman Kris Letang deflected. The puck caromed to Duchene in the left circle, and he beat Fleury between the pads.

Duchene has points in 16 of the past 19 games (14 goals and 10 assists) after getting one goal and one assist in his first 10 games.

Mikhail Grigorenko had the other assist. Grigorenko was in the lineup after Gabriel Landeskog was scratched because of a back injury. He started the game on Colorado's top line with MacKinnon and Duchene but was demoted to the fourth line and replaced by Alex Tanguay later in the first period.

"He was not good enough on the one-on-one battles," Roy said of Grigorenko. "He needs to win his battles. He lost a lot of battles."

Berra kept the Avalanche in front by stopping Crosby on a shorthanded breakaway at 7:58 with Cullen in the penalty box for interference. But Cullen tied the game at 10:56. Maatta took a shot from the right point and Cullen deflected it past Berra for his second goal in four games and third of the season.

The Avalanche went back in front at 15:00 on Johnson's goal. Johnson brought the puck into the Penguins' zone, passed to Carl Soderberg on the right side and continued to the net. He redirected Soderberg's return pass over Fleury's stick for his first goal in 11 games and fifth of the season.

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