ITTSBURGH (AP) — Reilly Smith scored twice, Tristan Jarry stopped 30 shots and the Pittsburgh Penguins ended Colorado’s NHL-record road winning streak with a decisive 4-0 victory on Thursday.
The Avalanche had won 15 straight away from Ball Arena dating back to March and came in as one of three teams in the league unbeaten on the young season. Both runs came to a halt on a night the Penguins offered a glimpse of the team they hope they can become more regularly over the next six months.
Smith beat Alexandar Georgiev twice in the first period to put Colorado down multiple goals for the first time all season. Lars Eller added his first goal for Pittsburgh in the second period and Sidney Crosby scored his fourth goal midway through the third. Jarry did the rest while picking up his 15th career shutout.
Georgiev, making his seventh start in seven games, stopped 19 of 23 shots before exiting after Crosby’s goal put the game out of reach 9:25 into the third. Georgiev’s personal road winning streak ended at 12, leaving him in a tie for the longest road winning streak by a goaltender in league history, set by Eddie Johnston with Boston in 1971.
The Avalanche hadn’t fallen on the road in the regular season since a 7-3 loss to Dallas on March 4. Yet their dominant start — Colorado started the night with an NHL-best plus-16 goal differential — came undone as the Penguins easily put together their best performance in recent memory.
Smith, acquired in an offseason trade with Vegas, has been one of the bright spots of Pittsburgh’s uneven start. He’s found an instant chemistry with Evgeni Malkin on the second line and gave the Penguins the early lead when his wrist shot from the slot zipped over Georgiev’s glove 4:40 into the game.
Malkin did most of the hard work later in the period, carrying the puck in on a 2-on-1 that ended with Malkin dishing the puck to Smith at the doorstep. Smith’s fourth goal of the season at 16:51 also gave the Avalanche their first multi-goal deficit of the year.
The Penguins, the NHL’s oldest team, have had trouble playing with sustained effort and avoiding defensive lapses while dropping four of their first six games. That wasn’t an issue against the Avalanche.
Pittsburgh held its ground and never let Colorado turn it into a track meet and when Radhim Zohorna stripped Josh Manson at the doorstep and fed a puck to a wide-open Eller at the doorstep 6:00 into the second, the Penguins had a lead they never came close to giving away.
Colorado’s best chance to get back in it came late in the second period when Malkin was given a double-minor penalty for high sticking. Yet the Avalanche spent four minutes struggling to generate any momentum and ultimately finished 0 for 5 with the man advantage while failing to match the franchise’s first 7-0-0 start since 1985, when the club was known as the Quebec Nordiques.
Avalanche: Wrap up a three-game road trip in Buffalo on Sunday.
Penguins: Continue a four-game homestand on Saturday when Ottawa visits.