PITTSBURGH -- Scores in bunches have been rare for the Pittsburgh Penguins. So have goals from center Sidney Crosby. They got both Thursday night for a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
Center Matt Duchesne scored twice for the Avalanche, and defenseman Tyler Barrie scored his first of the season.
It was the second win in a row for Pittsburgh, which has struggled to score but has four goals in each of the two wins. That includes a 4-3 victory Tuesday against Minnesota that the Penguins found inspirational because it came after a low point, a 4-0 loss at New Jersey that sparked a players-only postgame meeting.
"We still have to get better, but tonight was a good test," Crosby said of the win over Colorado. "We had a pretty emotional game the last game. It would have been easy for there to be a little bit of a letdown coming into tonight, especially the way they were playing. They trap it up in the neutral zone. There wasn't a lot of time and space in the neutral zone.
"We stuck with it, didn't get discouraged, and special teams were big again. Just being able to follow that up was important. We just want to continue this momentum we're building and really try to build our identity as a team."
Crosby ended a two-game point drought and a six-game goal drought when he scored at 11:56 of the third period to restore Pittsburgh's two-goal lead at 4-2. Crosby split Avalanche defensemen Nick Holden and Barrie while taking a short pass ahead from left winger Pascal Dupuis. Crosby moved in and scored on a backhander between the pads of goaltender Reto Berra for his third goal this season.
That rendered Duchesne's second goal of the game, with 1:23 left in regulation, too little, too late.
"They had a flurry of goals in the second period there, and I guess we couldn't come back from that. We couldn't get the job done," said Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon, who had no points and lost this head-to-head battle with offseason training partner Crosby. "It's too bad that we had a one-goal game and we let them up by two. It's tough to come back from that."
Colorado is 3-2 five games into a seven-game, 15-day road trip.
The Penguins have won five of their past six games against the Avalanche in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves and now has a share of the NHL lead with 10 wins.
Colorado took a 1-0 lead with 25.3 seconds remaining in the first period on Duchesne's power-play goal. From 10 feet and unguarded, he stuffed a rebound of a point shot by right winger Jarome Iginla past Fleury.
The march of the Penguins goals started at 5:35 of the second period during four-on-four play. Right winger Beau Bennett won a faceoff back to defenseman Ian Cole at the left point. Cole's slapshot handcuffed Berra, and Perron knocked the puck in to make it 1-1.
At 7:04, during a Pittsburgh power play, Malkin, from the right circle, converted on a one-timer from defenseman Kris Letang, scoring into the short side of the net for a 2-1 lead.
Just 39 seconds after that, Berra went behind his net to play the puck. Pressured by Kunitz, he had to scramble back to the crease and barely made a stop on center Nick Bonino. Kunitz drove around from behind the net and slid the rebound over the goal line for a 3-1 Penguins advantage.
"We got the first goal, got some energy off the crowd," Pittsburgh coach Mike Johnston said. "We got the power-play (goal) and we get the one (on the play) behind the net. ... That was a critical turning point in the game."
The Penguins still needed Crosby's goal to hold off Colorado in the third.
"I think what we take with us tonight isn't how we finished. It's just the fact that you have a mental lapse for, it doesn't matter if it's two or three minutes, you can lose a game just like that," Avalanche left winger Gabriel Landeskog said. "It changes around real quick and it goes from being us having it under control with a 1-0 lead (to trailing 3-1). A couple bad bounces obviously, but we have to make sure we can't take a shift off and we have to make sure we're on it the whole time."
NOTES: Colorado captain and LW Gabriel Landeskog returned after serving a two-game suspension for a check to the head of Boston's Brad Marchand. ... C Ben Street (chest injury) returned to Denver and might require surgery. ... Colorado G Semyon Varlamov remains out because of a groin injury. The Avalanche scratched D Nate Guenin and C John Mitchell (oblique injury). ... With D Olli Maatta out three to four weeks because of an upper-body injury, Pittsburgh recalled D David Warsofsky. However, Warsofsky was scratched in favor of D Adam Clendening, who played in his second game in a row but just his third this season. LW Daniel Sprong was the other scratch. ... Penguins coach Mike Johnston moved stay-at-home D Rob Scuderi to the top pairing with D Kris Letang. Scuderi missed Tuesday's game because of illness. ... C Nick Bonino returned to the Pittsburgh lineup after missing a game because of an undisclosed injury. ... Maatta, who left Tuesday's game after being pushed into the open door of Minnesota's bench and spent a night in a hospital, was at Consol Energy Center in the morning.