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Giguere, Avalanche shut down Penguins

by Wes Crosby /

PITTSBURGH -- The Colorado Avalanche faced seven power plays, but still shut out the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday.

Gabriel Landeskog's second-period goal was enough to propel the Avalanche to a 1-0 win against the Penguins at Consol Energy Center.

Pittsburgh allowed 14 Colorado shots, but the Avalanche took advantage of their limited chances.

Goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere made Landeskog's third goal of the season, which came with 14:34 left in the second period, stand up in a matchup of two teams that entered play Monday with 7-1-0 records. He made 34 saves.

"For us, every win is important," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "This one is very special for us. It's not very often we're going to win in Pittsburgh [when] they had seven power plays. They are probably one of the best in the League, and they were moving the puck really well.

"Your goalie needs to be your best player in every situation, and [Giguere] was our best player."

Giguere earned his second shutout in three starts for Colorado.

"[Semyon Varlamov] and I are working with a new goalie coach and Patrick, who is helping us, too," Giguere said. "Altogether, I think we feel pretty good. It's a new season, a new attitude all around. It's a lot more positive.

"I would've believed being over .500, but maybe not 8-1."

Landeskog was called for hooking 3:18 into the second period. The Penguins failed to score on their fifth power play of the game, and Ryan Wilson found Landeskog in the neutral zone seconds after he stepped out of the box. He charged toward the Pittsburgh net and sent a wrist shot below Marc-Andre Fleury's glove.

Colorado remained unbeaten in five road games. The Penguins lost their first game in six played in Pittsburgh.

Forward Matt Duchene called the game a measuring stick for the Avalanche after their morning skate Monday. While he wasn't satisfied with the team's play, he was impressed by its resolve.

"We took way too many penalties and we made it pretty easy for them, their top guys, to get touches," Duchene said. "[Sidney Crosby] and [Evgeni] Malkin had touches and really good games, and we pretty much let them because we let them touch the puck a lot early.

"Patrick's been talking about it all camp. There's nights where we're not going to be at our best and we have to find ways to win, and tonight we did."

Pittsburgh forced four Colorado penalties in the first period, and seven overall, but the Penguins' power play, which had scored on 28 percent of its chances entering Monday, didn't take advantage of any of those chances while registering 13 shots.

Colorado, which entered the game with the League's fourth-ranked penalty-killing unit (87.5 percent), limited the Penguins' opportunities.

"I think special teams were largely a big story of the night," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "Going 0-for-7 on the power play, we had plenty of opportunities there, had plenty of good looks. I think there were three or four the guys would like to have back."

After going 7-for-7 in Pittsburgh, the Avalanche penalty kill was second in the NHL at 90.3 percent.

The bulk of the game's action took place in Colorado's zone through two periods, but the Avalanche defense pressed Pittsburgh's forwards and blocked 20 shots, led by Jan Hejda's five, while Giguere stopped another 18 to keep the Penguins off the scoreboard heading to the third.

"It's tough when they don't go in like that," Crosby said. "But we still did a lot of good things, and we deserve better. That's how the game works sometimes. Sometimes, you deserve to win and tonight, we deserved better, but didn't get the result we wanted."

Pittsburgh registered 34 shots, 20 more than Colorado.

The Penguins had an opportunity to tie the game late in the third period, but Giguere denied Chris Kunitz's point-blank wrist shot.

Crosby slid a puck past Erik Johnson on a 2-on-1 and right on to Kunitz's stick in front of Colorado's net. Kunitz fired the puck from just outside the crease, but Giguere made a glove save to preserve the Avalanche's one-goal lead with 7:34 left.

Giguere is 3-0-0 with two goals allowed this season. He needed to continue that level of play for the Avalanche to win at Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh's defensemen guarded their blue line, making it difficult for Colorado to enter the Penguins' zone. Once the Avalanche did establish possession, Pittsburgh surrounded Fleury and blocked 11 shots.

"It was quiet for most of the night," Fleury said. "The guys did great and didn't give much. It's just unfortunate we couldn't get a goal."

Pittsburgh generated several scoring chances in the first period, while holding the Avalanche to four shots. Nathan MacKinnon registered Colorado's first shot 13:38 into the first.

The Avalanche's four first-period shots were tied for the fewest amount allowed by Pittsburgh during a period this season. The Penguins allowed four shots in the first period of their 3-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 15.

Crosby alone outshot the Avalanche in the first period by registering five shots. Crosby finished with a season-high seven shots, but failed to score a point for the first time this season. MacKinnon, a fellow Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, native, was also held without a point with two shots.

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