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Calgary Flames let down by offence again in 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh Penguins

Sunday, 01.12.2014 / 1:05 AM / News

The Canadian Press

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Calgary Flames let down by offence again in 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh Penguins

CALGARY - Marc Andre Fleury made 27 saves Saturday night to backstop the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 2-1 victory over the Flames, handing Calgary a team record sixth consecutive regulation loss on home ice.

It looked for the longest time like Fleury was going to become the sixth goaltender in the last eight games to shut out the Flames before Mikael Backlund cut into a 2-0 deficit with a goal at 11:29 of the third period.

Ending a goalless stretch on home ice at a team record 196 minutes 59 seconds, Backlund outbattled Kris Letang for the puck and scored on a wicked slapshot from 40 feet out.

However, despite the roaring sell-out crowd of 19,289 suddenly back in the game and momentum seemingly on their side, Calgary could not get the tying goal.

Chris Kunitz and Matt Niskanen scored for Pittsburgh (33-12-2). The Penguins pick up five of six points on its three-game road trip through Western Canada. They begin a three-game homestand Wednesday against Washington.

Calgary (15-24-6) is next in action Monday in Carolina as they begin a short two-game road trip that sees them also play Tuesday in Nashville.

Pittsburgh took a 1-0 lead at 16:34 of the first period on a laser of a shot from Kunitz that beat Reto Berra over his shoulder and just under the cross bar. The goal came on the opposite side of the ice from where Flames' Joe Colborne, with a delayed penalty coming, had a fist full of the neck of Zach Sill's jersey in his glove.

The Penguins made it 2-0 at 6:42 of the second period when Niskanen's shot from the blue-line through a crowd in front squeaked through the pads of Berra.

The Flames' 27-year-old goaltender had 24 saves including two stellar stops against Sidney Crosby less than 30 seconds apart in the first period.

With the game scoreless, first Crosby broke in from off the left wing but had his snap shot smothered. Later that shift, Kunitz's pass sprung Crosby on a breakaway from the blue-line but again Berra showed good reflexes in stopping the close wrist shot.

Crosby also hit a goal post in the second period, another dangerous chance that came when he blocked Mark Giordano's shot at the blue-line and broke away down the wing.

Crosby finished without a point to see his seven-game points streak snapped.

Only down 2-0 seven minutes into the third period, the Flames had a chance to try to get the game back to even when they got a five-minute power play after Pittsburgh defenceman Robert Bortuzzo was given a match penalty for head contact for a heavy hit along the side boards on Calgary captain Mark Giordano.

But just over two minutes into the power play. With control of the puck in the Pittsburgh end, Mike Cammalleri cross-checked Brandon Sutter up high and was penalized.

Cammalleri is one of several Flames in extended scoring slumps with just three goals in his last 18 games.

Notes: The old mark for regulation losses at home was five, which happened in March 2000 ... Calgary has scored just 12 goals in Berra's last 11 starts. ... Backlund's goal ended the Flames' overall shutout streak at 174:59, short of the team record of 182:42 set in November 2002 ... Calgary RW David Jones (eye) missed his fourth game ... Healthy scratches for the Penguins were C Joe Vitale and D Simon Despres ... Pittsburgh has won seven games in a row against the Flames including the last four at the Scotiabank Saddledome ... The Penguins improved to 10-2-1 against the West. Calgary is 7-8-4 against the East.

Quote of the Day

I came into a team that had 65 points, that was at the bottom of the basement, a team that everybody wrote off as never going to be good. My goal is to go from the very bottom to the very top.

— Forward Brandon Dubinsky on signing a six-year contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets