Calgary Flames upend Pittsburgh Penguins to stop seven-game skid

By Alan Robinson, The Sports Xchange
Calgary Flames defenseman Dougie Hamilton (27) congratulates Calgary Flames center Mikael Backlund (11) on his goal in the second period of the Flames 4-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on March 5, 2016. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
1 of 3 | Calgary Flames defenseman Dougie Hamilton (27) congratulates Calgary Flames center Mikael Backlund (11) on his goal in the second period of the Flames 4-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on March 5, 2016. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

PITTSBURGH -- Sometimes a team does the least when they're most expected to win, as the Pittsburgh Penguins were reminded on a day they couldn't imagine losing but did.

Joe Colborne scored a goal and set up Lance Bouma's game-sealing goal in the third period and the Calgary Flames ended a seven-game losing streak by surprising the Penguins 4-2 on Saturday.


The Flames, who had won only once in 11 games since Feb. 11, got 29 saves from Joni Ortio in his first victory of the season and handed Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury only his second regulation-time loss in 14 games at Consol Energy Center since Jan. 1.

Ortio came in with an 0-6-2 record, only to win for the first time since Jan. 19, 2015.

"It's been tough to lose as many games as we have for the last while, and it's tough to keep that positive attitude. So I'm guessing you'll see a few more smiles around the rink," Colborne said.


Calgary trailed 2-1 after Sidney Crosby scored twice, but Mark Giordano, Mikael Backlund and Bouma produced goals in succession against a Penguins team that was 12-2-2 in its last 16 home games.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan wasn't happy with what Crosby said was a visible letdown after a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers two days before.

"We missed an opportunity," said Sullivan, whose team came in with a five-point lead for the Eastern Conference's second playoff wild card. "If we're going to climb in standings, we've got to string some in a row.

"We had a great effort the other night, but today was disappointing. I think our team is better than that."

Crosby's excuse for losing to a team that was 0-4 in Pittsburgh during the last 10 years, or since Dec. 3, 2005? He had none.

"For whatever reason, we didn't have the desperation and urgency you need," Crosby said. "There's no excuse for that. We need points and we're in a huge playoff race right now. We can't accept that."

Whenever the Penguins did something right, the Flames answered almost immediately -- something they haven't been doing while going winless since Feb. 19.


Calgary scored in less than two minutes after each of Crosby's goals, then took the lead for good at 3-2 on Mikael Backlund's goal only four seconds after the Penguins killed off a four-minute Calgary power play in the second period.

Bouma's second goal in 29 games sealed it, making it 4-2 at 14:03 of the third period. Bouma beat Fleury on a wrist shot off a nifty drop pass from Colborne that came after he gathered the rebound of Bouma's initial shot.

"Colby made a great play, a good pass to me, I was kind of all alone there and (I) wanted to get it up ... and in the back of the net," Bouma said. "We know their situation. They're fighting for a playoff spot, (but) we're never quitting."

The Flames got off to a bad start when Crosby scored 30 seconds into the game on a deflected shot off the end boards, with an assist from Patric Hornqvist.

But they tied it 1:28 later when Sam Bennett's shot deflected off Colborne's right skate and directly into the net for Colborne's 11th goal of the season.

Fleury (26 saves) was trying to become only the 20th goalie in NHL history to win 350 games.


Crosby, who has 43 of his 63 points this season at Consol Energy Center, regained the lead for Pittsburgh 5:24 early in the second. Crosby won a faceoff in the defensive zone, kept the up-ice rush going with a between-his-legs drop pace, then went to the net and redirected Hornqvist's shot from the right point.

Pittsburgh came in with three wins in four games.

But again the Flames needed less than two minutes to answer as Giordano, left alone in the left circle, put a wrist shot past Fleury.

Later in the period, Penguins appeared to swing the momentum their way by killing off Tom Kuhnhackl's four-minute penalty for high-sticking Jakub Nakladal. But, almost immediately, Backlund deftly redirected Dougie Hamilton's on-the-stick pass into the net.

The Flames also won the only previous meeting between the interconference teams, 5-2 on Nov. 7.

NOTES: With Pittsburgh RW Kevin Porter (ankle surgery) out for the season after being injured Thursday against the New York Rangers, the Penguins called up RW Josh Archibald from their AHL farm club. ... Penguins F Beau Bennett, out for 33 of the last 34 games because of a shoulder injury, is practicing for the first time since being reinjured Jan. 23. ... The Flames continue to search for a linemate for LW Johnny Gaudreau and C Sean Monahan, beginning the game with Michael Frolik at right wing. They ended their previous game with recent callup Garnet Hathaway at right wing. ... Calgary started Joni Ortio in net, his second start since the Flames acquired G Niklas Backstrom from Minnesota on Monday. G Jonas Hiller also made one start. ... Puck-moving D Justin Schultz was expected to make his Penguins debut, one week after being picked up from Edmonton but sat out a fourth consecutive game. He has been out because of immigration issues and a lack of practice time with his new team. ... Calgary scratched Backstrom as it wrapped up a four-game trip. The Penguins, who play their next four on the road starting Sunday at New Jersey, sat down Schultz and G Jeff Zatkoff. ... Penguins LW Carl Hagelin needed stitches during the first period but returned, and spent part of the game on Crosby's line.


Latest Headlines