The work ethic is there. I thought we played another solid game. We don’t like our start but the chances are there, the opportunities are there to have games. - Mark Giordano
PITTSBURGH, PA -- For a fourth straight game, the Calgary Flames found a way to outshoot their opponent. For a fourth straight game, they couldn’t find a way to outscore them.
“You hit those waves and you have to face them,” coach Bob Hartley said. “You have to go through. Right now, obviously, we’re not in a good sequence but we’re competitive in every game. A hockey team is very fragile and the difference between winning and losing, the line is very fine. It’s all a matter of staying focused.”
The chances? They’re there.
The effort? It’s present.
The result? It hasn’t been.
“We have to keep working hard,” captain Mark Giordano said. “The work ethic is there. I thought we played another solid game. We don’t like our start but the chances are there, the opportunities are there to have games. Give them credit. It seemed like where those ones were going for us when we were on that winning streak, they definitely haven’t been going lately. We just have to stick with it because we’re creating a lot, though.”
It took former Flames forward Blake Comeau just 48 seconds to put Pittsburgh ahead, electing to hold on a 2-on-1 before snapping a shot over the shoulder of Jonas Hiller for a 1-0 lead. Comeau’s goal was his ninth of the season. He had just nine in his 91-game tenure in Calgary.
At 4:43, Kris Letang, playing his first game since Nov. 28, tipped a Simon Depres point shot between Hiller’s legs to promptly extend the Penguins lead to two. The goals came before Calgary could register its second shot on goal.
It was all the offence Pittsburgh needed in the 3-1 win.
“When we give up two goals early and we’re fighting the rest of the way back it’s tough,” Curtis Glencross said. “We’ve got to be ready to go from the get-go. They came out hungry.”
The Flames didn’t fold, though.
Johnny Gaudreau recorded his sixth of the season to pull within one, depositing a rebound that Marc-Andre Fleury couldn’t squeeze with his glove at 12:15.
The press continued, including a post off the stick of Mason Raymond three minutes later, but Calgary couldn’t find the equalizer in the first 20 minutes.
A scoreless second period was kept that way thanks to some heroics from Hiller.
With eight minutes left in the middle frame, Hiller’s outstretched pad spoiled a rebound that Nick Spaling tried to tuck by the Calgary netminder. On the next shift, Hiller was equal to Patric Hornqvist’s pair of stuffs on the doorstep.
In all, he made 11 stops to keep Calgary within one.
As has been the theme, the Flames push came in the third.
Calgary poured 13 shots but couldn’t find an equalizer. Rob Klinkhammer added another single with 2:47 remaining to hand Calgary a fourth straight loss.
The Flames will look to avoid a fifth Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks.
“No one feels sorry for us, that’s for sure,” Hartley said. “We’re in a very competitive business and it’s around us. It’s there. We’ve done it before and we just have to go back and keep going and tomorrow we’ll have a good day off and on Sunday we’ll be against the Hawks.
“It’s important we regroup, we refocus and we stay on the job in front of us.”