The Penguins’ trip through Western Canada ended on a sour note with a loss to the Calgary Flames.
The Penguins entered the game having won nine consecutive times against Calgary.
This was an example of what happens when the Pens get the kind of offense they’ve had all season and the defense, which has played well, breaks down. It’s not pretty.
Dupuis sat out another game. He’ll be getting more tests when the team returns to Pittsburgh.
Kari Ramo looks like Jaqen H’ghar.
Perron cleared the puck over the glass and the Flames got an early powerplay. Letang fanned on a clearing attempt and gave the Flames a free shot, but Fleury made the save.
Perron had a golden opportunity coming out of the box as he picked up a pass at the blue line.
Crosby and Hornqvist got mauled in the corner by Kris Russell and Dougie Hamilton and somehow Crosby was called for holding.
The Flames had a few chances on the PP but Crosby was back on the ice and let Sam Bennett make a pass out of the corner to Joe Colborne. Colborne wristed one home to put the Flames up 1-0.
The Pens were getting outshot 1-7 to that point, thanks in no small part to the two penalties.
The momentum switched to the Penguins’ favor as the period wore on. Kessel took a pass down below the Flames’ goal line. For some reason, the Calgary defense allowed him to skate out and take a bad-angle shot. Kessel’s shot beat Ramo and the score was tied at one.
Lovejoy took a penalty and the Flames quickly took the lead back. Tic-tac-toe passing from Backlund behind the Pens’ net to Monahan on Fleury’s right side to Gaudreau on Fleury’s left. Gaudreau buried the easy shot on the open net.
Seconds later, the Penguins just absolutely collapsed, allowing Sam Bennett to skate unchallenged into the zone and beat Fleury blocker side. Bennett turned Cole inside-out.
With 15 seconds left, Crosby almost tipped a shot into the net. The Pens were swarming but the refs stopped play on a hand pass by the Flames.
All the talk about the Penguins winning with defense and the Pens found themselves in a two-goal hole at the end of the first period.
Calgary came out flying, racking up several more shots in the early minutes.
After Malkin’s line possessed the puck in the Flames’ zone, Fleury made a save with his mask on Brodie while sprawled in his crease. If not for Fleury, the score would have been much worse.
In the latter half of the period, the Flames made it 4-1 on a flukey play, with Gaudreau batting the puck into the air around Cole and Monahan bunting it into the net behind Fleury. The “FLEURY! FLEURY!” taunts started up.
The Pens went on the powerplay after Bennett interfered with Dumoulin. You could tell they were feeling frustrated with how the game was going. Malkin made a beautiful pass to Kessel with a wide open cage but Kessel flubbed the shot.
The Penguins got some vindication just seconds after the Kessel chance. The second powerplay unit jumped on the ice and Perron attracted all four Calgary penalty killers as he entered the zone. He passed to a wide-open Bonino on the left wing. Bonino beat Ramo to cut the Flames’ lead to 4-2.
HCMJ juggled some of the line combinations, putting Bennett out with Malkin and Kessel. Kunitz found himself back on Crosby’s wing.
Calgary was cutting off passes in the neutral zone as the Penguins defensemen tried to move the puck. Turnover after turnover at the red line.
Dumoulin tried to kick a puck and allowed it to bounce into the Pens’ zone. Lovejoy had to hook Jones to prevent a breakaway, but Jones couldn’t score on the resulting penalty shot. The Penguins bench didn’t like the call.
Entering the third period, Crosby still hadn’t registered a shot, which is not a recipe for success.
The Flames iced the puck three times in quick succession in the early minutes.
The Pens’ zone entries looked a lot cleaner, but the quality chances still weren’t there.
A solid shift by Fehr playing with the third line resulted in a Penguins powerplay right around the halfway mark. Several good chances, but nothing was going for the Pens.
HCMJ ill-advisedly pulled Fleury with 2:30 remaining despite the fact that the Calgary had possession of the puck. Gaudreau wasted no time scoring on the empty cage. Game.
Rough day for the Pens. Hopefully they can just put it behind them.