Penguins Double Up Avalanche, 6-3

Hornqvist nets hat trick in win

PITTSBURGH (AP) — There isn’t a lot of finesse in Patric Hornqvist’s game. The Pittsburgh Penguins forward understands his job is to get to the places on the ice that not everyone wants to go, set up camp there and make something happen.

His team in serious need of a kick-start after squandering a three-goal lead against white-hot Colorado, Hornqvist provided one.

Well, three actually.

Hornqvist recorded the fastest hat trick in franchise history on Tuesday night, beating Semyon Varlamov three times in a span of 2:47 in the third period as the Penguins pulled away for a 6-3 victory.

“You know what, the two last ones, they were lucky ones,’ Hornqvist said after boosting his season goal total to 12. “You have one of those days sometimes, the puck is just coming right on your stick, you don’t think you’ll shoot and if you don’t know where to go I don’t think the goalie does either.”

The Avalanche roared back from a 3-0 deficit by dominating the second period behind goals from Tyson Barrie, Carl Soderberg and Matt Nieto. While Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan told his team to keep its swagger, Hornqvist understood the Penguins were in a delicate spot.

The longtime Eastern Conference power is off to a sluggish start, one marred by sloppy defense and an inability to put away opponents or play well at home. Pittsburgh began the night sixth in the Metropolitan Division and just 5-6-2 at PPG Paints Arena.

The Penguins spend much of the second period chasing the younger, faster Avalanche before Hornqvist went to work.

“We couldn’t really stop the bleeding (in the second) but you know what? We have a good group of guys in here and I think this is the turning point of our season,” Hornqvist said. “It’s a great third period and (if we) just keep building every single day from this day on and we’ll be fine.”

Hornqvist’s record-setting run began in typical Hornqvist fashion. The 31-year-old Swede parked himself in front of Varlamov, corralled a rebound off a Kris Letang shot, jabbed at the puck once before spinning around and whipping it by the goaltender 6:11 in the third to put Pittsburgh back in front.

He needed just 1:21 to double the Penguins’ advantage and completed the hat trick on his next shift when he fired a wrist shot from the slot that appeared to hit off Colorado’s Alexander Kerfoot and sneak past Varlamov.

“He plays the game so hard,” Sullivan said. “He takes so many cross checks and he goes to the dirty areas and he competes. He just wants to win. He’s such a competitive guy and tonight he had a great night for us.”

Jake Guentzel, Evgeni Malkin and Derick Brassard also scored for the Penguins, who halted Colorado’s 11-game point streak. Kris Letang added two assists for Pittsburgh. Casey DeSmith finished with 42 saves.

Varlamov made 26 stops, but struggled early and late as Colorado’s six-game road winning streak came to an abrupt halt.

FLAMES 9

BLUE JACKETS 6

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Johnny Gaudreau had two goals and two assists, and the Flames scored five goals in the second period to rally past the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Cam Atkinson netted a hat trick for Columbus to extend his point streak to 11 games, but the Blue Jackets lost their second straight.

PANTHERS 5

BRUINS 0

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Roberto Luongo, who returned to the lineup after missing five games with a knee injury, earned his 77th career shutout and the Panthers beat the Boston Bruins.

Luongo made 33 saves and passed Ed Belfour and Tony Esposito for sole possession of ninth place on the NHL’s shutout list.

LIGHTNING 6

RED WINGS 5, SO

DETROIT (AP) — Nikita Kucherov and defenseman Victor Hedman scored in a shootout to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a comeback victory over the Detroit Red Wings.

MAPLE LEAFS 4

SABRES 3, OT

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Auston Matthews scored his second goal with three seconds on the clock in overtime, and the Toronto Maple Leafs matched their best start in 84 years with a win over the Buffalo Sabres.

CANADIENS 5

SENATORS 2

MONTREAL (AP) — Max Domi had two goals and an assist and Jonathan Drouin added a goal and two assists as the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Ottawa Senators.

JETS 3, ISLANDERS 1

NEW YORK (AP) — Jacob Trouba and Adam Lowry scored 22 seconds apart early in the third period, rallying the Winnipeg Jets to a victory over the New York Islanders.

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