Penguins 2 Flames 0
PITTSBURGH — The Penguins and Flames treated their rare meeting as a playoff game. Marc-Andre Fleury certainly played as if the stakes were that high.
Fleury made 31 saves for his fourth shutout of the season, and Pittsburgh kept pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race with a 2-0 win over Calgary on Wednesday night.
“It’s like playoff hockey right now, with how that game was,” Fleury said. “Every goal was big and every save was big.”
Fleury was responsible for several of the latter, while defencemen Kris Letang and Hal Gill provided offence for the Penguins, who improved to 4-1-1 on their franchise-record eight-game homestand. Evgeni Malkin had two assists, giving him a career-high 107 points and extending his NHL scoring lead to 11 points.
After having its 12-game points streak snapped in a 3-1 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday, the Penguins beat the Flames in a spirited, hard-hitting, end-to-end contest to take over sole possession of sixth place in the conference with 88 points — a point behind Carolina and two behind Philadelphia.
The Flames — playing in Pittsburgh for the first time since Dec. 5, 2005 — remained three points ahead of idle Vancouver atop the Northwest Division.
Facing the team ranked second in the league in goals per game, Fleury earned his 15th career shutout. He has allowed only 20 goals in 11 starts this month.
“He played unbelievable,” Pittsburgh centre Jordan Staal said. “He was there for every save.”
Some of the Flames’ best chances came during their five power-play opportunities, including a four-minute chance that spanned the second intermission after Malkin was penalized for high-sticking Jim Vandermeer.
“The difference for us was not being able to score on the power play,” Calgary coach Mike Keenan said. “When you get five opportunities and you come up with nothing, you’re not going to win a hockey game on the road.”
Fleury stopped David Moss from in close during that power play, and denied Curtis Glencross at least three times throughout the course of the game on chances from in front of the net.
Another of Fleury’s better saves was on Calgary goal leader Michael Cammalleri on a rebound of Olli Jokinen’s shot.
“Special teams are a big part of it, and they beat us in that area tonight,” Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. “For the most part it was a one-goal game the whole time, and if we get one there (on the four-minute power play) going into the third, 1-1 is a solid spot to be in on the road. And we didn’t get it done.”