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Pens fail to finish in 2-1 loss to Colorado

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Colorado added two third period goals, including the game-winning empty net finish from Blake Comeau with 1:29 left in the game, giving the Western Conference visitors the 2-1 upset win.

It wasn’t the prettiest way to close out a five-game homestand.

With both a pair of wins and losses under the belt, Pittsburgh (16-13-3) closed things out at PPG Paints Arena in losing fashion Monday night, dropping the bad break loss to Colorado (14-13-2,) who has now won just twice in its last seven games.

The Pens, who presently sit at sixth in the Metropolitan, have now dropped three of their last four games.

“It’s just one of those nights, one of those games where you can’t seem to put a puck past them,” said Conor Sheary.  “It’s unfortunate, because we thought we played pretty well, but that happens sometimes.”

Avalanche goalie Jonathan Bernier stopped 39-of-40 shots, including a barrage of point blank opportunities to start the third period, in which six straight shots were stopped by the netminder in the first four minutes.

Colorado’s blue line came to the rescue for Bernier, blocking 14 shots, while keeping the Pens off the board for just over 59 minutes.

“In the third, we were the better team, but they found a way to get that first one,” said Patric Hornqvist.  “After that, we chased the game.  We had some good looks, but we couldn’t find a way to score tonight.  That’s what happens when you run into a hot goalie, and they play good defensively.”

With just 12 seconds left, Pittsburgh avoided its first home shutout since a 3-0 loss to St. Louis Jan 24 of last year, when Phil Kessel (15) found the back of the net on a one-timer assisted by Evgeni Malkin.

“We’re disappointed we didn’t get the result, but there were a lot of things we liked about the game,” said Mike Sullivan.  “We had the puck a lot.  We had established a lot of offensive zone time.  The power play wasn’t quite as sharp as it’s been, but that is going to happen over the course of 80 plus games.  We’ve got to find ways to have success five-on-five.  We just couldn’t find the back of the net tonight.”

The Pens went 0-for-3 on the power play, while holding Colorado to an 0-for-4 campaign on their man-advantage.

Tristan Jarry, who may have started his last game as the injured Matt Murray gets closer to healthy status, closed the homestand with another solid performance, stopping 26-of-27 shots, preserving the shutout until the 6:17 mark of the third period, when Mark Barberio scored on an unassisted slapper, breaking the scoreless tie.

“It’s a tough one to swallow,” said Jarry—who carries a 2.7 GAA in 10 games played this season—about the lone goal he surrendered Monday night.  “It’s something I’ll watch video on and improve on.”

The rookie goalie continued about his learning experience during the course of the five-game homestand.

“Every day I want to get better, and every day I want to prove something to myself, that I can play here; that I can play back-to-back,” he explained.  “I think that is a huge thing for me, and it helps me improve my game.”

“He’s a good goalie,” Sullivan confidently said of Jarry.  “He made some timely saves for us tonight.  It was a one goal game.  It was one of those games that could have gone either way.  It didn’t go our way tonight.”

After the moneyline

Colorado hit as the biggest underdog winner at PPG Paints Arena this season, cashing in at +190.  The Penguins haven’t lost as -200 or more favorites on home ice since Nov. 22, when the squad lost to Vancouver at -195.

Up next

Pittsburgh will travel to Las Vegas to face Marc-Andre Fleury and the Golden Knights Thursday.  Puck drops from T-Mobile Center at 10 PM ET.

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