Inside The Game: Flames vs. Penguins

Sunday, 12.01.2014 / 1:20 AM
Aaron Vickers  - CalgaryFlames.com (@aavickers)

GAME IN A MINUTE

CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames managed to put one on the board, but one wasn’t enough to top the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Matt Niskanen’s goal in the second period stood as the winner while Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves to lift the Penguins to a 2-1 win at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday.

The Flames did, however, manage to end their scoring drought on home ice at 196 minutes and 59 seconds.

Chris Kunitz, who will represent Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, opened the scoring for the visitors.

With just 3:26 remaining in the first period, Kunitz took a pass from Robert Bortuzzo, walked off the half wall and snapped a shot short side over the glove of Reto Berra to make it 1-0.

Niskanen floated a point shot through the crowd in front of Berra, skipping the puck between the legs of the Flames goaltender 6:42 into the second.

But after seeing captain Mark Giordano take a high hit from Bortuzzo in the third, the Flames sparked.

Bortuzzo was assessed a match penalty on the play and, after Mike Cammalleri’s cross-checking minor shortly thereafter evened things up, Mikael Backlund outmuscled Penguins defenceman Kris Letang for the puck in the Pittsburgh end before rifling a shot over the glove of Fleury to cut the lead to 2-1.

The Flames couldn’t find another, though, and dropped their sixth straight on home ice.

GOAL OF THE GAME

After outmuscling Letang for the puck, Backlund snapped a shot that eluded Fleury for his sixth of the season to halt Calgary’s scoreless drought on home ice at 196 minutes and 59 seconds.

SAVE OF THE GAME

Nine minutes into the game, Crosby burst around a Flames defender and ripped a shot from below the faceoff circle, but Berra swatted it away with his glove. Berra followed it up 23 seconds later by blockering away Crosby’s next attempt on a breakaway.

TURNING POINT

Niskanen’s knuckler from the point squeaked between Berra’s legs 6:42 into the second period and eventually stood as the winner.

QUOTE OF THE GAME

“It was obviously nice to get a goal, since we haven't had too many at home here lately. Personally, obviously, it feels good too. But it doesn't feel good if you don't win.”

-Backlund

STAT OF THE GAME

Going up against centres like Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Sean Monahan was 82 percent at the faceoff dot, winning nine of 11 draws.

LINEUP NOTES

Derek Smith and David Jones (eye) were scratched against the Penguins. Curtis Glencross (high ankle sprain), Kris Russell (MCL sprain) and Blair Jones (meniscal tear) also missed Saturday’s game.

COMING UP

The Flames hit the road for back-to-back games starting Monday against the Carolina Hurricanes (5 p.m. MT, SNET-W, Sportsnet 960 The Fan).

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