Penguins sneak past Flames, 2-1
CALGARY, Alberta — One night earlier, defenseman Rob Scuderi accused his teammates of playing like the Harlem Globetrotters.
They apparently got the message.
Playing a far more responsible style, the Penguins — though far from perfect — methodically controlled much of the final game of their Western Canada swing in a 2-1 victory against the Flames.
“It was definitely better than last night, that's for sure,” defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “It's tough to get any worse than last night.”
The Penguins played arguably their worst game of the season the night before in Edmonton, turning the puck over at will, and ultimately felt fortunate to emerge with a point.
While the Penguins still made some mistakes against the Flames — namely nullifying another power play with a penalty and taking multiple penalties while protecting a two-goal lead — they controlled play for much of the evening and held on for the victory, finishing the road trip with a 2-0-1 record.
They now lead the Metropolitan Division by 18 points over the Capitals and Flyers.
“We played a much grittier game, a tough game,” coach Dan Bylsma said.
They did so shorthanded, as well.
Right wing Joe Vitale was unable to play because of a wrist injury, right wing Brian Gibbons left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return, and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo was ejected in the third period and leveled with a match penalty for a hit on defenseman Mark Giordano.
The Penguins seemed miffed that Bortuzzo was ejected.
“A clean hit,” Bylsma said. “That's what I thought it was.”
Even Calgary coach Bob Hartley didn't seem troubled by the hit, simply explaining that “I've got more important things to watch on video than that hit.”
Defenseman Matt Niskanen didn't have a problem with the hit, which saw Bortuzzo collide with Giordano and then dramatically lift his right arm after contact had already been made.
“Live speed,” Niskanen said, “I thought it was a good, clean hit. I might be biased, but I thought it was fine.”
The penalty to Bortuzzo brought upon some adversity for the Penguins, who were in control thanks to goals from Chris Kunitz and Niskanen.
Forced to kill a five-minute penalty, the Penguins received a gift when forward Mike Cammalleri took a penalty during the power play. Still, Calgary ended its 175-minute goal drought by scoring with 8:11 remaining to pull within a goal.
The goal took place with one second still remaining on the four-on-four situation, and the Penguins still had work to do on the penalty kill. They held down the fort, silencing the Flames the remainder of the game.
“The PK was really good,” Orpik said. “It was aggressive. We didn't give them much room to set up.”
The Penguins had plenty of opportunities to break the game open.
Sidney Crosby, the NHL's leading scorer by a 13-point margin, was stoned on a breakaway, on a two-on-one and hit the post on another two-on-one.
Still, the Penguins relied on a much steadier dose of team defense to douse the Flames, who entered the game having been blanked in five of their previous seven games.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury didn't get the shutout, but was strong throughout the contest, stopping 27 of 28 shots for his league-leading 26th victory of the season. His best save was a diving save on center Mikael Backlund. Fleury was tangled up with another play and was forced to use his head to make the save.
“That was pretty amazing,” Bylsma said.
There was little else amazing about the victory for the Penguins. Instead, it was solid and workmanlike, which is exactly what they wanted.
“We gutted this one out,” Bylsma said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Pederson had to go at Pitt
- Steelers, young and old, thirst for opportunity to reach the postseason
- Penguins’ Fleury tests negative for mumps; Crosby skates with team
- Judge dismisses littering charge against City Council president Kraus
- Pederson’s 2nd tenure as the athletic director at Pitt comes to abrupt end
- QB Smith is chief concern for Steelers’ defense
- Armstrong man dies in single-vehicle crash
- Chryst returns home, named football coach at Wisconsin
- Developer reveals Buncher plans for 400 Strip District apartments, townhomes
- Generous Leechburg boy receives Christmas surprise from secret Santa
- Butler’s chief clerk files discrimination, retaliation complaint