PITTSBURGH (AP) — Blake Comeau scored 2:24 into overtime to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 1-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots, registering his sixth shutout of the season just hours after the Penguins thought their starting goaltender had the mumps.
Fleury, who recorded the 34th shutout of his career, was tested after missing Wednesday’s practice with an illness, but the results came back negative and he was cleared for Thursday’s game.
Sidney Crosby also returned Thursday after missing three games with the mumps, as the Penguins managed three wins and five of a possible six points without their captain. They now have six wins in their last nine games.
Comeau’s goal was his 11th of the season. He tapped the game-winner past goaltender Calvin Pickard after Evgeni Malkin deflected Rob Scuderi’s shot from the point in front.
Pickard stopped 47 shots for the Avalanche, who lost for the sixth time in seven games and have one win in December.
Both teams were scoreless through two periods and Pickard, a rookie recalled from Lake Erie earlier this month, kept it that way with Pittsburgh pressing for the go-ahead goal. Pickard started the last four games and seven of the last 10 with Semyon Varlamov nursing a groin injury.
The Penguins spent most of the third in the Colorado zone, registering 19 of the first 24 shots of the period.
Early in the third Pickard denied Crosby on a breakaway with a glove save. Malkin lofted a high pass to Crosby, who managed to stay onside, but he couldn’t beat Pickard with a wrist shot from between the circles.
Crosby returned to practice Wednesday, skating for the first time since his diagnosis. Though Crosby missed a practice last week because of illness, the Penguins believed their captain wasn’t at risk for the mumps after he received a booster shot prior to traveling to Russia for the Winter Olympics in February.
But the Penguins announced Sunday that Crosby had contracted the mumps — two days after pronounced swelling in his face forced him to sit out last Friday’s home game against Calgary.
Forward Beau Bennett also was diagnosed with mumps, which has affected at least five other NHL teams, while backup goaltender Thomas Greiss and defensemen Robert Bortuzzo and Olli Maatta – both sidelined because of injury – are all being tested.
The Avalanche, who opened a three-game road trip in Pittsburgh, didn’t hold a morning skate as a precaution.
NOTES: Penguins’ D Christian Ehrhoff left after the first period with an undisclosed injury. Avalanche D Brad Stuart became the 293rd player in league history and 100th defenseman to appear in 1,000 career games.Penguins’ D Scott Harrington made his NHL debut on Thursday. The Penguins, for the fifth time, wore their third jersey — a throwback to the black and yellow-gold color scheme from when they won their first two Stanley Cups.Colorado continues its road trip Saturday at Buffalo, while Pittsburgh hosts Florida.
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