DENVER -- Sidney Crosby was held off the score sheet, but Patric Hornqvist had two goals to help the Pittsburgh Penguins defeat the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 at Pepsi Center on Thursday.
Crosby, who needs two points for 1,000 in his NHL career, will get his next chance to reach the milestone Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes.
WATCH: All Penguins vs. Avalanche highlights
"The points will take care of themselves," said Crosby, who had two shots in 19:47 of ice time and created several chances with his passing. "I'd love to get it done. The sooner the better, to be honest with you, just so I don't have to keep answering about it. The quicker, the better. Hopefully [I'll] get it done here shortly."
Pittsburgh (34-13-6) is 4-0-1 in its past five games and moved into second place in the Metropolitan Division, one point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan wasn't happy with his team's play, other than goalie Matt Murray, who had 27 saves and lost his bid for a shutout when Gabriel Landeskog scored a power-play goal at 16:44 of the third period.
"Certainly we were happy with the result, but that's probably where it ends," he said. "Matt was good. He made a lot of timely saves for us. We can't play a loose game like that and expect to win consistently in this league."
Video: PIT@COL: Hornqvist hammers a PPG past Pickard
Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon hit three posts, linemate Mikko Rantanen hit one, and John Mitchell missed an open net.
"It's a game of millimeters," said MacKinnon, who is friends with Crosby, a fellow Nova Scotia native. "I think Sid could have had three or four points tonight. [Goalie Calvin Pickard] made some big saves. Sid made some great passes and eventually you say, 'Wow, how does he do that?' That's why he's been the best for 12 years."
Colorado (15-34-2) won its previous two games by a combined 9-2 score. The Avalanche haven't won three in a row since March of last season.
Hornqvist scored twice in the second period when the Penguins grabbed a 3-0 lead, and Chris Kunitz scored into an empty net with 36.5 seconds remaining.
"We didn't play as good as we wanted, but in the end we won 4-1 and that's what matters," Hornqvist said. "We got goals, but we didn't play the right way. We have to get back to playing more consistently."
Hornqvist made it 2-0 on a power play at 3:50 after Crosby drew a holding penalty against Nikita Zadorov. Justin Schultz dumped the puck into the corner and Phil Kessel passed to Hornqvist for a shot past Pickard, who had 26 saves.
Hornqvist gave the Penguins a 3-0 lead at 18:38 after Schultz intercepted Avalanche defenseman Francois Beauchemin's clearing attempt. He passed to Hornqvist for his 17th goal.
"The first one bounced off I don't know how many guys and came right on my stick," Hornqvist said. "The other one, [Schultz] did a good job keeping it in and shot it. Some nights you find those loose pucks."
Kessel gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 4:01 of the first period on a 2-on-1 rush for his 18th goal.
Video: PIT@COL: Landeskog tallies sharp-angle PPG
Goal of the game
Hornqvist used some fancy stick work to score his second goal, corralling his own rebound in the slot and putting a backhand shot inside the left post.
Video: PIT@COL: Hornqvist buries own rebound for second goal
Save of the game
Murray stopped Landeskog, who took a pass from MacKinnon and drove to the net at 9:46 of the first period.
Video: PIT@COL: Murray kicks away Landeskog's wrister
Highlight of the game
Penguins forward Matt Cullen set up Kessel's goal with a perfect pass after Avalanche defenseman Patrick Wiercioch's turnover in the neutral zone.
Video: PIT@COL: Kessel beats Pickard five-hole with wrister
Unsung performance of the game
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang prevented what could have been a dangerous scoring chance by Colorado forward Blake Comeau with a deflection at 17:40 of the second period. Letang played 26:35 and was plus-1.
They said it
"We made some mistakes and did some things in the second period that I really didn't like, but I like that we stuck with it in the third. Some of those games early in the year, 3-0 turned into 6-0. We continued to push tonight." -- Avalanche coach Jared Bednar
"They're a good offensive team. They're a way better team than their record indicates and they can make you pay, they can put the puck in the back of the net pretty easily. They got some chances off the rush and the power play. They threw a good variety of pucks on net." -- Penguins goalie Matt Murray
Need to know
Penguins forward Bryan Rust sustained an undisclosed injury at 16:41 of the second period and didn't return after Avalanche defenseman Mark Barberio checked him into Murray. ... Crosby played in his 754th NHL game to pass Jean Pronovost for sole possession of third place on the Penguins all-time list ... Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie (lower-body injury) missed his third consecutive game.
Penguins: At the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; FS-A PLUS, ROOT, NHL.TV)
Avalanche: At the New York Rangers on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; MSG, ALT2, NHL.TV)
Video: Hornqvist, Penguins defeat Avalanche, 4-1