CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames don’t get to see Sidney Crosby that often. It may not be such a bad thing.
Crosby had a goal and two assists to pace the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-3 victory over the Flames at Consol Energy Center on Saturday afternoon.
Crosby, the NHL’s leading scorer with 51 points heading into the game, wasted no time building on his totals and helping the Penguins to their 10th straight win on home ice.
After lifting a stick in front to get the puck, Crosby was denied by Karri Ramo but Pascal Dupuis was on the spot to pot the rebound to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead at 10:26. With the assist, Crosby extended his point-scoring streak to 10 games. He also moved into 201st on the all-time scoring list with Petr Nedved and Martin Straka.
Just 1:19 after Dupuis’ goal, Harrison Zolnierczyk recorded his first as a member of the Penguins, deflecting Robert Bortuzzo’s point shot behind Ramo to put Pittsburgh up 2-0.
Paul Byron answered back for the Flames in the second, scooping the puck up below Pittsburgh’s goal line before skating out to the high slot and firing a shot that found the post before bouncing off Marc-Andre Fleury and in to pull Calgary within one at 6:48.
Crosby restored Pittsburgh’s two-goal lead and passed Nedved and Straka in the process. Skating 4-on-4, Crosby took a pass by Chris Kunitz and poked it by TJ Brodie at center ice before skating into the Flames zone and uncorking a shot that beat Ramo over the glove to put Pittsburgh up 3-1 at 14:44.
Just 19 seconds after James Neal scored his 11th of the year, Mike Cammalleri brought Calgary back within two, dancing around Penguins defenceman Matt Niskanen and putting a shot just under the bar with 46 seconds remaining in the period.
Hudler pulled the Flames back to within one just 63 seconds into the third, converting Matt Stajan’s centering pass over Fleury’s glove for his 10th of the year to make it 4-3.
Joe Colborne almost tied the game with 6:27 remaining, coming from behind Fleury’s net and wrapping it around the Penguins goaltender but instead found the far goal post.
The Flames wouldn’t come any closer to tying the game, ending their 5-game road trip away from Scotiabank Saddledome at 1-2-2.
GOAL OF THE GAME
Byron’s blast from the high slot beat Fleury -- but not the post -- striking the iron before bouncing off the back end of the Penguins goaltender and over the line 6:48 into the second period to temporarily bring the Flames to within one.
SAVE OF THE GAME
Kunitz slid a pass over to Crosby for a one-time blast from just off the faceoff dot to Ramo’s left, but the Flames goaltender made a sharp save to temporarily keep the game scoreless just five minutes in.
Neal’s goal with 1:05 remaining in the second period was answered quickly by Cammalleri’s tally, but was enough to give Pittsburgh enough breathing room on Saturday.
STAT OF THE GAME
No one has played it closer than the Flames, who have played a league-leading 23 one-goal games.
Blair Jones, TJ Galiardi and Christopher Breen were scratched against the Penguins. Dennis Wideman (hand) didn’t play due to injury.
Calgary returns to Scotiabank Saddledome to welcome the St. Louis Blues on Monday (6 p.m. MT, SNET-Flames) before breaking for Christmas.