Six months after finishing with the worst record in the Western Conference, the Colorado Avalanche ranks among the NHL's elite teams.
Despite taking just 14 shots and affording the Pittsburgh Penguins seven power-play chances Monday, the Avalanche emerged with a 1-0 win at the Consol Energy Center. Colorado improved to 8-1-0, the second-best record in the league.
"We want to surprise the world of hockey. That's what we've been trying," said first-year Colorado coach Patrick Roy.
The win improved Colorado's road record to a perfect 5-0, while Pittsburgh (7-2-0) suffered its first home defeat.
Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog, fresh out of the penalty box, scored the game-winner at 5:26 of the second period. Landeskog corralled a loose puck near the top of the right faceoff circle, used Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik as a screen and wristed the puck through Orpik's legs and past Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for his third goal of the season.
"I couldn't see it," Fleury said.
Avalanche goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped all 34 shots he faced.
The Penguins lost despite holding their opponent to a season-low shot total.
Pittsburgh squandered its power-play chances and failed to take advantage of a career-high seven shots from Sidney Crosby.
"That's how the game works sometimes," Crosby said. "Sometimes you don't deserve them and you find a way to win, and tonight we deserved better and didn't find a way to win, but we did a lot of good things."
Crosby's points streak was snapped at eight games.
While neither team registered a goal in the first period, the Avalanche gave the Penguins plenty of offensive opportunities. Colorado was whistled for high sticking, tripping, delay of game and elbowing but managed to kill each man-advantage, with Giguere denying five shots from Crosby alone.
Colorado was so busy killing penalties that it only registered four shots in the frame and didn't record its first shot until the 13:38 mark.'
"(Crosby) and (Evgeni) Malkin had really good games, and we pretty much let them because we let them touch the puck early and (Giguere) bailed us out," Avalanche center Matt Duchene said.
Colorado was awarded three power plays in the second period, but the Penguins improved to a perfect 13-for-13 on the penalty kill at home so far this season.
Giguere made his best save of the night at the 7:34 mark of the third when he robbed Chris Kunitz with a glove save on a one-timer from in tight.
"They throw a lot of stuff at you," Giguere said. "I'm just happy we're able to get the win."
Fleury finished with 13 saves while suffering his first loss of the season.
The game featured a matchup of former No. 1 overall picks from Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia: Crosby and Colorado rookie Nathan MacKinnon. Crosby finished a minus-1 in 26:40 of ice time, while MacKinnon had no shots and an even plus-minus in 10:54 of action.
NOTES: Crosby was selected the NHL's second star of the week. In three games last week, he recorded two goals and six assists. ... The NHL announced that Colorado LW Cody McLeod was suspended five games without pay for boarding Detroit D Niklas Kronwall in Thursday's game. ... Scratches for the Penguins were C Dustin Jeffrey, RW Beau Bennett (lower body), and D Deryk Engelland. Scratches for the Avalanche were McLeod, D Nick Holden, and D Tyson Barrie. ... Pittsburgh is next in action Friday, when the New York Islanders visit the Consol Energy Center. Colorado also is off until a Friday home game against the Carolina Hurricanes. ... The official attendance was 18,606.