Bernier makes 39 stops as Avalanche top Penguins, 2-1 |

Bernier makes 39 stops as Avalanche top Penguins, 2-1

Colorado Avalanche goalie Jonathan Bernier blocks a shot during the second of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

PITTSBURGH — Colorado defenseman Mark Barberio was a healthy scratch last week against Buffalo. He made a huge play Monday night against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions.

Barberio scored in the third period and Jonathan Bernier stopped 39 shots, helping the Avalanche to a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“You’re going to go through some ups and downs throughout a season, as a team and individually,” Barberio said. “The key is not to get too high with the highs and too low with the lows. That’s the way hockey goes and I’m just happy to contribute a bit.”

Barberio put the Avalanche ahead to stay 6:17 into the third. His slap shot off the rush hit Pittsburgh forward Riley Sheahan in front and got past goaltender Tristan Jarry.

“The puck just popped out perfectly for me,” Barberio said. “I just tried to get it through. It obviously hit a leg, but we’ll take it.”

Blake Comeau added an empty netter against his former team as Colorado won its second straight after a string of six losses in seven games. It was Comeau’s seventh of the season.

Bernier was on track for his second shutout of the season before Phil Kessel scored his team-best 15th goal for Pittsburgh at 19:48. But Bernier beat the Penguins for just the second time in 10 career games.

“It’s hard enough to get (a shutout), and when you’re so close, obviously, it’s tough,” Bernier said. “But at the same time, we got a big two points and that’s what matters.”

Kessel has points in 25 of 32 games this season and eight straight home games, his longest streak since joining the Penguins.

Jarry, making his eighth straight appearance, stopped 26 shots in the finale of a season-long five-game homestand. Pittsburgh lost for the third time in four games following a four-game winning streak.

“We’re disappointed we didn’t get the result, but there was a lot to like about the game,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, who missed out on his 100th regular-season win. “We just couldn’t find the back of the net tonight.”

Colorado thought it scored in the opening period when Nathan MacKinnon deftly worked around Penguins defenseman Kris Letang at the blue line and squeezed a shot between Jarry’s pads. But the goal was overturned on a coach’s challenge for offsides.

“That’s as close as it gets,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “It was a goal on the ice, so I thought maybe it would stand, but when you zoomed in on the blue-line camera, it looked like it didn’t come all the way into the zone. It was a real close play, but I think they made the right call.”

Jarry kept the game scoreless in the second period with a sharp left-pad save on a wide-open J.T. Compher from the slot in 4-on-4 play. He also made a glove stop on an open Carl Soderberg from close range and a stick save on Compher during a short-handed breakaway.

“(The Penguins) are the champs, and we’re not there yet, but I think it’s a big test for us,” Bednar said. “You know you have to show up when you’re playing Pittsburgh, otherwise you’re going to get embarrassed. I’m pretty happy with the way our team came out.”

NOTES: Penguins F Patric Hornqvist (upper body) was in the lineup after leaving during the third period of Saturday’s loss against Toronto. … Penguins G Matt Murray participated in the morning skate for the second time since sustaining a lower-body injury on Nov. 27. Murray is considered day to day. … Avalanche F Nail Yakupov missed his third straight game with an illness. … Colorado dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen. … Penguins F Tom Kuhnhackl (upper body) missed his second game. . It was the 500th consecutive home sellout for the Penguins. … Pittsburgh plays at Colorado next Monday night.


Avalanche: Close a five-game road trip Tuesday at Washington.

Penguins: Begin a three-game road trip Thursday at Vegas.

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