Penguins 5 Flames 3
CALGARY — The Pittsburgh Penguins erupted with four goals in the second period and held on for a 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames on Saturday.
Defenceman Matt Niskanen had a goal and an assist for Pittsburgh, which improved to 2-0 on the season and on their current Western Canadian tour.
Jordan Staal scored an empty-net goal and Evgeni Malkin, Craig Adams and Tyler Kennedy also had goals for the Penguins.
Curtis Glencross, Rene Bourque and Olli Jokinen replied for the Flames in Calgary’s first game of the 2011-12 season.
Pittsburgh’s season-opener was a 4-3 shootout victory in Vancouver on Thursday. Pittsburgh is in Edmonton on Sunday before returning home to face the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 17 saves for the win, while Calgary counterpart Miikka Kiprusoff, who needs one win to become the franchise leader at 263, stopped 32 shots.
The Penguins are still without captain Sidney Crosby, who is skating with the team on their current road trip but not yet cleared for contact.
He played 41 games last season before suffering concussions in January that ended his season. Crosby scored a hat trick in Pittsburgh’s 4-1 win the last time these two clubs met Nov. 27, 2010.
Even without Crosby, the Penguins have a talented, nimble lineup led by centres Malkin and Staal and defenceman Kris Letang. Pittsburgh has been touted as a pre-season favourite to win the 2012 Stanley Cup.
It was all Pittsburgh in the second period as the visitors outshot Calgary 16-5. After Malkin made it 4-1, tempers flared.
The Penguins took exception to a check on Matt Cooke by Flames defenceman Cory Sarich and that prompted a line rumble near Calgary’s net. Malkin later threw a couple punches at Glencross and both were sent to the penalty box for roughing and slashing respectively.
Calgary scored twice in the third period to pull within a goal. After Fleury bobbled the puck behind his own net, Niklas Hagman backhanded the puck to Jokinen out front and the Finn beat Fleury stick side at 16:23. Calgary’s Bourque halved the deficit in the third, deflecting an Alex Tanguay shot by the Pittsburgh goalie at 9:08.
Malkin tucked a rebound by Kiprusoff at 13:01 of the second period for a power-play goal. It was the big Russian’s first of the season although he scored during the shootout in Vancouver. Calgary native Adams made it 3-1 at 10:11, tapping the puck past Kiprusoff from the slot.
Niskanen gave the visitors a 2-1 lead at 6:40 when Calgary was serving a penalty for too many men. Niskanen batted in a rebound off of Kiprusoff’s outstretched pad for the defenceman’s second goal as a Penguin since he was acquired from Dallas last season.
Pittsburgh caught Calgary’s power-play napping when Pascal Dupuis head-manned the puck to Kennedy stepping out of the penalty box. With the Penguins rushing Calgary’s zone, Kennedy opted to keep the puck and put a wrist shot between Kiprusoff’s pads at 1:04.