DENVER (AP) — The crystal trophy was nice. So were the watch and the silver hockey stick. Mementos from his 1,000th NHL game that Alex Tanguay will surely cherish.
This meant a lot to him as well — the win that accompanied all the gifts he received in a pregame ceremony with his family standing next to him.
Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and two assists, Semyon Varlamov made 28 saves, and the Colorado Avalanche beat Pittsburgh 3-1 on Wednesday night to halt the Penguins’ four-game winning streak.
Jarome Iginla scored 13 seconds into the second period and Nathan MacKinnon, wearing a shield to protect his broken nose, added a goal with his skate for the Avalanche, who improved their postseason hopes on Tanguay’s night. It was a crucial two points for the Avs, who are on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture.
“We needed one. We needed to get back on the winning side,” Iginla said. “It came against one of the best teams in the game.”
And on a special night for Tanguay, who was honored before the game with a video tribute as his kids and wife joined him on the ice. The 35-year-old Tanguay was taken by Colorado with the 12th pick in the 1998 draft. He played his first six seasons with Colorado before suiting up for Calgary, Montreal and Tampa Bay.
“A great ovation and presentation from the crowd,” Tanguay told reporters after the game. “Family is a big part of it, and they sacrifice a lot in order for you to do what you do.
“Playing one game was my goal and here we are a 1,000 games later — it was nice.”
Evgeni Malkin scored the lone goal for the Penguins. The Avalanche are 16-5-6 against Pittsburgh since moving to Denver in 1995-96.
Varlamov played in his 20th straight game and improved to 10-8-2 during the streak. He stymied Sidney Crosby and Malkin — two of the NHL’s top scorers — for most of the game, before allowing Malkin’s goal off a rebound midway through the third period.
Landeskog restored the Avalanche’s cushion when he got loose down the right side, cut into the middle and beat Marc-Andre Fleury with a wrist shot with 5:03 left.
Pittsburgh pulled Fleury with around 2:30 remaining, but the extra skater didn’t help against Varlamov.
“I know sometimes when you come in here, especially with altitude, it takes a little bit to get your legs going. It took us too long,” Penguins coach Mike Johnston said. “I thought halfway through the second, we did start to get our legs. You could see it in the third period, much better skating period. Better chances. Early in the game, I just didn’t like our game.”
Fleury couldn’t bottle up Colorado’s offense as he did on Dec. 18 in Pittsburgh, when the Penguins beat the Avs 1-0 in overtime.
Iginla got the Avalanche on the board in the second period before either team had time to work up a sweat. He took two strides inside the blue line and launched a wrist shot that beat Fleury for a power-play goal. It is the 16th time Iginla has netted at least 20 goals in a season.
Iginla also tied Bobby Clarke for 43rd place on the NHL’s career points list with 1,210.
Iginla’s goal wasn’t just advantageous for the Avalanche. By scoring in the opening 30 seconds of the second period, Iginla helped a fan win a new car as part of a promotion.
“It was nice that it went in,” Iginla said.
MacKinnon added a goal at 14:29 of the second, when Jan Hejda sent a pass in his direction. The puck bounced off MacKinnon’s skate as he got tangled up with Kris Letang.
Pittsburgh bolstered its blue line at the NHL trade deadline by acquiring Ben Lovejoy and Ian Cole, who made their debuts Wednesday. This is Lovejoy’s second stint with the team, and he said before the game he feels like he is “right back into things. I like all the guys here.”
NOTES: Penguins D Christian Ehrhoff (concussion symptoms) didn’t play. “Just some issues that the doctors still want to be cautious with,” Johnston said. … MacKinnon is looking for a new place to stay after Maxime Talbot was traded to Boston for Jordan Caron, who made his Avalanche debut. MacKinnon was living with the Talbot family. … The Avs said Tanguay is the 299th player in NHL history to reach the 1,000-game milestone.
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