Lemieux scored a goal, but Colorado rallied with four third-period goals to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 Saturday, giving the Avs 12 victories in their last 15 games.
“I don’t think we were playing well in the first two periods,” said Rob Blake, who scored his 11th goal of the season. “We weren’t getting deep, we were trying to make plays through the neutral zone.”
Steve Reinprecht, Peter Forsberg and Milan Hejduk also scored for Colorado (31-15-11-7). The Avalanche tied the game 1:37 into the third period when Reinprecht lifted his own rebound over Pittsburgh goalie Johan Hedberg.
With Derek Morris in the penalty box for holding the stick, Blake gave the Avs the lead for good when he scored at 3:42 of the third. Thirty-one seconds after Shean Donovan went off for slashing, Forsberg scored a power-play goal to make it 3-1.
Hejduk scored his team-leading 38th goal with 8:31 left to complete the scoring.
“It’s a 60-minute game, and if you are not happy with the first 30 or 40 minutes, you have time to regroup and salvage something,” Colorado head coach Tony Granato said. “Today we were able to do that.”
The Penguins (25-31-4-5) lost for the 15th time in the last 19 games.
“I thought that we played it tight,” Pittsburgh head coach Rick Kehoe said. “We didn’t give them a lot, and the guys were playing the system we talked about (Friday), and we got opportunities. We had our chances.”
It was a disappointing return to Denver for Lemieux, who has watched the Penguins go from playoff contenders to also-rans.
“You have to be realistic at times,” said Lemieux, whose second-period goal was his 26th of the season. “We have a lot of young guys here playing and sometimes making mistakes.”
The Penguins are a long way from their championship days of a decade ago, when Lemieux was playing with the likes of Jaromir Jagr, Kevin Stevens, Bryan Trottier and Rick Tocchet. Pittsburgh has traded away much of its top-level talent, including Alexei Kovalev in an eight-player deal on Feb. 10.
It’s a reality the financially troubled Penguins had to face.
“It’s very difficult, because I’ve been on the other side on teams winning (Stanley) Cups,” Lemieux said. “I’ve just got to make the best out of it right now with the team we have, and re-evaluate it again at the end of theyear and see where the franchise is.” ^@ Notes: The Avalanche haven’t lost a regulation game at home since a 4-2 loss to Detroit on Jan. 16, a span of 10 games (8-0-1-1). … Lemieux has a point in six of Pittsburgh’s last eight games, and he has 11 total points in that span. … Goals by Forsberg and Hejduk meant that the Avs have gotten at least a point in 18 straight games from the Forsberg-Hejduk-Alex Tanguay line. … Tanguay extended his points streak to 13 straight games. … Hedberg made 22 saves, but just four in the third period. … Joe Sakic assisted on Colorado’sfirst two goals.