Saturday, December 13, 2014
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Penguins extend Flames' losing streaks

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[December 13, 2014]  PITTSBURGH -- Calgary was hoping to end both a three-game losing streak overall and a seven-game losing streak against Pittsburgh on Friday night, but both of those streaks carried on as the Penguins defeated the Flames 3-1 at Consol Energy Center.

The Penguins were missing center Sidney Crosby for the first time this season and playing with a depleted lineup, but still managed to skate away with the victory. In fact, the Penguins have won 16 of the last 18 meetings between the two teams in Pittsburgh dating back to 1989.

With the Flames (17-12-2) having played Thursday in Buffalo and the Penguins (19-6-3) having not played since Monday at Madison Square Garden, Pittsburgh, somewhat predictably, looked like the more rested team right out of the gate.

Just 44 seconds into the game, the Penguins took a 1-0 lead on their first shot of the game. Left winger Blake Comeau broke into the zone on a two-on-one, but opted to shoot himself, wiring a wrist shot from the right wing faceoff circle that rocketed past Flames goaltender Jonas Hiller and just under the crossbar.

"Just getting a little extra momentum, a little extra edge early in the game is always a big plus," said Penguins coach Mike Johnston.

The Penguins have now scored the first goal in 21 of their 28 games this season and have tallied a league-leading 37 goals in the first period.

The Penguins went ahead 2-0 when defenseman Kris Letang, back after a five-game absence with a groin injury, deflected a shot from the right point by defenseman Simon Despres. Letang, positioned in the high slot, got his stick on the shot and changed the trajectory of the puck enough that it snuck through the five hole of Hiller at 4:43 of the first frame.

"When I saw the puck going to Simon (Despres), I just tried to find a spot where he could shoot it at me," said Letang.

The Flames got one back to make it 2-1 at 12:15 of the first when Pittsburgh defenseman Robert Bortuzzo stepped up at the blue line, but missed his hit, allowing center Marcus Grandlund to continue down the left wing and fire a shot on Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. The resulting rebound off Fleury's pads was knocked home by left winger Johnny Gaudreau.

"You're not going to win many games scoring one goal, so we didn't find a way to bang one home or get one to tie it," said Flames defenseman Mark Giordano, who had his six-game point streak snapped.

Both teams had ample power-play opportunities throughout the game, but both penalty-killing units were equal to the task. Despite ranking as the NHL's best power-play unit, the Penguins have tallied only one power-play goal in their last 19 attempts. Overall, both the Penguins and the Flames went 0-5 on the power play.

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"It was not a good night for both power plays," said Flames coach Bob Hartley.

The Penguins sealed the deal at 17:13 of the third when newly acquired center Rob Klinkhammer beat Hiller with a one-timer off winger Steve Downie's cross-ice feed for his first goal as a Penguin.

"I didn't have to do much, I just kind of re-directed it," said Klinkhammer.

Fleury turned aside 26 Calgary shots while Hiller stopped 19.

In what was a physical game, both Penguins center Zach Sill and Flames defenseman Ladislav Smid left the game and did not return with what were described by their respective coaches as "upper-body injuries."

NOTES: Penguins C Sidney Crosby missed the game with an undisclosed illness and is also expected to miss Saturday's game in Columbus. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said in a statement, "There is no indication at this time that this is the mumps, but we are going to hold him out as a precaution. We'll have additional test results in a few days." The other scratches for the Penguins were D Olli Maatta (upper body) and D Brian Dumoulin. ... Scratches for the Flames were RW Brian McGrattan, LW Lance Bouma and D Raphael Diaz. ... The Penguins have lost 68 man-games to injury this season the Flames have lost 101.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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