By Will Graves, AP Sports Writer
Jared Bednar’s streak is just chugging along.
Gabriel Landeskog redirected a shot by Nathan MacKinnon past Marc-Andre Fleury 22 seconds into overtime to lift the Colorado Avalanche and Bednar, their first-year coach, by the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 on Monday night.
Landeskog tied the game with 6:32 left in regulation with a power-play goal and his second of the night. The goal handed the defending Stanley Cup champions their first loss of the season.
“It was a lucky bounce in overtime,” Landeskog said. “I think I just took a swing at it.”
The Avalanche remain unbeaten since Bednar replaced Patrick Roy in August. The won all six of their exhibitions and improved to 2-0 in the regular season, though Bednar’s own personal winning streak stretches back even farther. The Bednar-led AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters ripped off nine consecutive victories last spring on their way to the league’s Calder Cup title, meaning Bednar has walked into the postgame dressing room victorious 17 straight times.
Not that he’s counting.
“I didn’t think we had our best stuff tonight, that’s for sure,” Bednar said. “I think they outplayed us for the bulk of the game, but we found a way to create enough chances to kind of fight back after a slow start.”
Jarome Iginla and Patrick Wiercioch also scored for the Avalanche, who never led until Landeskog’s game-winner. MacKinnon had two assists and Calvin Pickard stopped 28 shots for Colorado.
“We’ve played two very tight games against two good teams to start us off and being down 2-0 against Dallas in the first game and against Pittsburgh here in Pittsburgh tonight, it’s not an easy hole to climb out of,” Pickard said. “But we didn’t worry about that.”
Matt Cullen had a goal and an assist for the Penguins while Phil Kessel and Trevor Daley also scored. Fleury made 27 saves, but the Penguins failed to become the first reigning Cup winner since the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings to start a season 3-0.
“It was just a weird game,” Cullen said. “There were a lot of ups and downs. Regardless of how you put it we had the game in control with 7 or 8 minutes left. We’re better than we played tonight.”
The Penguins have still picked up a point in each of their first three games and are surviving just fine without captain Sidney Crosby, who remains out indefinitely while recovering from a concussion. Pittsburgh edged Washington and Anaheim to open the season behind sharp play from Fleury and Kessel, who hasn’t missed a beat from his strong play during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Kessel threaded a shot from the left circle between Pickard’s legs for a power-play goal 8:57 into the game and Cullen slipped a rebound of his own shot by Pickard 37 seconds later to make it 2-0.
The Avalanche responded with a flurry of their own later in the period. Iginla ripped a 5-on-3 power-play goal by Fleury 16:27 into the first and Wiercioch’s shot from just inside the blue line 83 seconds later tied it. Colorado went 2 for 6 on the power play overall, and six of Pittsburgh’s seven total penalties were stick-related infractions like hooking and tripping.
“I felt a lot of them were avoidable,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “We’ve got to be more responsible with our sticks. We can’t put ourselves in positions where we give referees the opportunity to make those type of calls.”
Still, Pittsburgh appeared to be in control when Daley hammered a slap shot through traffic to put Pittsburgh back in from 9:12 into the third period but Landeskog buried a shot by Fleury less than four minutes later to send it to overtime.