Crosby, Malkin score in Penguins' shootout loss to Flames
CALGARY, Alberta - The Pittsburgh Penguins continued to lose players Monday, but they also continue to gain much needed points.
With seven regulars out of the lineup due to injuries, and Mark Streit joining that group Monday night, the Penguins fell 4-3 in a shootout to the hot Calgary Flames but the point they picked up allowed them to pull even with the Washington Capitals atop the Metropolitan Division with 14 games remaining in the regular season.
“Our guys are competing hard and that's what I admire most about them,” head coach Mike Sullivan said.
The loss comes after beating Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver to start their five-game road trip, which ends Wednesday in Philadelphia.
It ended their win streak at five and prevented them from overtaking the Washington Capitals in the quest for top spot in the Metropolitan Division. They did pull even, though.
Kris Versteeg scored the lone goal in the shootout. Penguins' big three of Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel all were stopped.
“I felt like we had our chances but it was a pretty good hockey game both ways,” Crosby said.
Crosby tied the game on a reviewed goal with 3:31 remaining. He batted the puck in just as Flames goalie Brian Elliott was gloving it, but goaltender interference was ruled out and the Penguins captain has his first goal in eight games.
The Penguins had a power play chance in overtime when Nick Bonino took a high stick from Flames captain Mark Giordano with 2:22 remaining.
While the Saddledome and Calgary media buzzed about how the game resembled a playoff tilt, it seemed to be just another outing for the Penguins, who enter every city with targets on their backs.
“We play in a lot of buildings that seem to be intense. The game in Edmonton was pretty emotional and Winnipeg too. I don't want to say we get used to it but I think everyone gets up to play us and I can understand that. We go in expecting that kind of game,” Crosby said.
Streit did not return after the first period with what was only described after the game as a lower body injury. Some reports said he was take to the hospital.
Johnny Gaudreau's power play goal with 5:22 gone in the third period gave Calgary a 3-2 lead. He danced around the Penguins from the blueline and beat Marc-Andre Fleury on a wrap-around.
Conor Sheary with his 20th of the season and Evgeni Malkin, also scored for the Penguins. Crosby also had an assist.
Deryk Engelland and Dennis Wideman, both defenseman who rarely score but got lucky ones Monday, also scored for Calgary.
The Penguins were without seven regulars due to injury, including for the third straight game center Matt Cullen. He skated in practice Monday morning but was kept out of the lineup again with a lower body injury. In his place was right winger Josh Archibald, who was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton prior to the game and started the game on a line with Bonino and Scott Wilson.
The Penguins came out aggressive and got the early jump at 2:54 when Crosby passed across to Jake Guentzel behind the net and Guentzel fed Sheary in front and he slipped the puck behind Brian Elliott before the Flames goalie could react.
After leading 6-1 on shots early, that momentum stalled for a spell when Ron Hainsey was called for high sticking at 8:02. The Flames tied the game when Deryk Engelland's pass went in off Streit's skate at 13:48.
Malkin's eighth goal in his past eight games came on a give-and-go with Chris Kunitz on the power play at 15:51 that left him with an easy tap in.
Guentzel almost made it 3-1 late in the period but, after taking a feed from Crosby in the slot, his snapshot pinged off the crossbar.
The Flames tied the game, however, early in the second. Wideman's floater from the point was catapulted off Nick Bonino's glove towards the net and Fleury lost track of it and it bounced across the goal line.
Fleury faced seven shots in the second period but it seemed his six stops were all big. Most notably he made two pad saves to rob Matthew Tkachuk during a power play midway through the period, then followed with a tough glove stop of Dougie Hamilton.
He finished the night with 27 saves.
“It was a fun game to be part of but it would have been better with a win,” Fleury said.
Sullivan was positive after the loss.
“It was a competitive game. It was a fairly even game. It could have went either way. It's a shame it's got to end in a shootout. It was two pretty good teams going at it.”