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Hornqvist, Murray lead Penguins to win over Avalanche

By: PAT GRAHAM, AP Sports Writer
February 9, 2017 Updated: February 9, 2017 at 10:07 pm
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photo - Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) celebrates a win with teammate Patric Hornqvist (72) following the Penguins' 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) celebrates a win with teammate Patric Hornqvist (72) following the Penguins' 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey) 

DENVER — Patric Hornqvist scored twice Thursday night while Sidney Crosby was held in check, and Matthew Murray made 27 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-1.

Crosby remained stuck on 998 career points. The Penguins captain needs two more to become the 86th player in NHL history to reach the 1,000-point plateau.

Phil Kessel scored a goal and Chris Kunitz added an empty-netter for Pittsburgh, which has won four of its last five road games.

Gabriel Landeskog finally solved Murray on a power play with 3:16 remaining. But it was too little, too late as Colorado saw its modest — and season high-tying — two-game win streak snapped.

The Avalanche pulled goaltender Calvin Pickard twice in the final two minutes, but couldn't score. Crosby had a good look at an open net, only to send the puck over the crossbar. Kunitz sealed the win with 36.5 seconds remaining.

Nikita Zadorov was whistled for holding on Crosby early in the second, a costly call on the young defenseman. Just 13 seconds later, Hornqvist squeezed a puck past Pickard to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead.

Hornqvist wasn't done, adding another at 18:38 of the second when he flipped a back-handed shot past Pickard. It was Hornqvist's second two-goal game of the season.

Moments before, there was a concerning moment for Pittsburgh when Crosby tried to thread a pass to Bryan Rust on a breakaway. Rust was checked by Colorado defenseman Mark Barberio and tumbled into Pickard, knocking the goal off its pegs. Rust didn't return for the third period.

Kessel scored at 4:01 in the first period when he beat Pickard with a liner that trickled off the crouching goaltender's chest and into the net.

Really, though, the opening 20 minutes turned into The Murray Show. He stopped 13 shots, including one in which Landeskog crashed into him. Murray also benefited from two shots hitting off the post in the opening 3 minutes.

The start of the game featured some hard checks, with Matt Duchene favoring his left leg after a hit from defenseman Ian Cole. Later, Tom Kuhnhackl briefly limped off after a hit from Zadorov.

NOTES: Penguins F Evgeni Malkin (lower-body injury) missed his sixth straight game and F Carl Hagelin (concussion) his second. ... Avalanche goaltender Jeremy Smith was recalled from San Antonio of the American Hockey League to serve as a backup. The team reassigned Spencer Martin to San Antonio so he could get more playing time. ... D Tyson Barrie (lower-body injury) skated Thursday and will join the team on the upcoming trip. ... RW Rene Bourque (head) also has resumed skating.

UP NEXT

Penguins: At Arizona on Saturday.

Avalanche: Open a five-game trip Saturday night at New York against the Rangers.

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