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MOSH PITT

Five different goal-scorers lead Flames to victory over Penguins

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

For two of the first three games of the road trip, the Flames likely deserved a better fate.

But the normally red-hot, red-and-white-clad gunslingers hit a rare dry spell and just couldn't cash.

That, despite outshooting their opponents 91-57 in a pair of shootout setbacks.

Today?

The supporting cast came alive and all four lines contributed to what can only be described as the ultimate team win.

Andrew Mangiapane, Michael Frolik, Austin Czarnik, Travis Hamonic and Sam Bennett found the back of the net, while Derek Ryan led the way with three helpers, and Mike Smith made 34 saves to propel the Flames to a 5-4 win to snap a four-game losing streak.

Video: Ryan, Smith lead Flames past Penguins, 5-4

Pittsburgh scored three on the powerplay - including two in the third period - to put a late scare into the visitors, but the Flames held on.

"We've had good contributions throughout [the lineup] on this trip," said head coach Bill Peters. "We didn't love our trip, to be honest with you, but we got points in three out of the four games and finish .500. Ended well with three out of the last possible four (points). ... We'd like to get our game dialled up a little bit better and a little more consistent across the board, and that's what we'll strive towards coming to the finish line here."

With the win, the Flames improve to 35-16-7 and now have a two-point lead on the San Jose Sharks for first in the Pacific.

Mangiapane got the Flames on the board at 7:06 of the first period after Ryan won a key puck battle down low. The ensuing Oliver Kylington point blast deflected off Nick Bjugstad, pinballed off Mangiapane's right skate at the bottom of the circle and dribbled five-hole on Penguins goalie Matt Murray for the second of No. 88's young career.  

Murray was eventually pulled after allowing five goals on 23 shots in 40 minutes of work.

The Penguins came right back and nearly potted the equalizer, but Smith (and his glove-side goalpost) kept the visitors in front.

Brian Dumoulin's crank from the right circle struck iron, and Matt Cullen - who took a pass on a partial 3-on-2 and got a clean look in the high slot - was turned aside by the netminder, who stood tall at the top of the blue paint.

Smith saw 30-plus shots for the second straight game, and was dialled in from the drop of the puck.

"It feels nice to play," the veteran said. "It's been a while since I've had back-to-back games, so it's nice to get a rhythm going and feel good about where my game's at.

"It's nice to get rewarded for a lot of hard work that I've put in."

Video: CGY@PIT: Smith uses the glove to stop Hornqvist

The goals that did beat him were either off sticks, or because of heavy traffic in front, limiting his view.

"I thought Smitty was real good," Peters said. "He was good on the trip and that's an encouraging sign."

The Penguins evened the score late in the first off a missed call the other way.

Marcus Pettersson blatantly interfered with Austin Czarnik, stunning the winger with a crushing blow as he raced to a loose puck in the neutral zone. Sam Bennett stepped up, dropped the mitts with the beleaguered Pens blueliner and shocked him with a series of rights.

Bennett, though, picked up the only penalty - a roughing minor.

"I didn't like the hit," he said. "When I see one of my teammates getting hit like that, I think there needs to be a response."

Justin Schultz - who missed the past 53 games with a fractured left leg - floated one on goal, and Jake Guentzel tipped home his team-leading 28th of the year to make it a 1-1 game at 17:41.

But the Flames came out of the gates red-hot and opened the second with two quick goals to adopt a 3-1 lead before the five-minute mark.

First, Murray was unable to corral a Rasmus Andersson point shot, allowing Frolik to swoop in and swat it home on the backhand. Then, Czarnik took a pass on his off wing, settled a bouncing puck and screamed home a knuckler, beating the goalie under the arm for his third of the year.

Video: CGY@PIT: Frolik puts home rebound from in front

Sidney Crosby made it a one-goal made with a powerplay strike at 6:53, beating Smith over the shoulder from an impossible angle after the killers got crossed up.

Before long, the Flames took back the game.

For good.

Hamonic restored the two-goal lead with a sneaky shot from the right dot, beating Murray up high on the short side after it may have gone off the stick of Guentzel in front.

Just 2:29 later, Bennett gave the Flames their first three-goal lead of the game with his 11th after the drawing the very penalty that put on the visitors on the powerplay.

Video: CGY@PIT: Bennett reaches back to drag puck over line

"I don't think it's a 'sigh of relief,'" Bennett said of snapping the mini slide. "No one in this locker-room is worried at all.

"We're still in first place in the West and we're still as confident as ever.

"It's good to get back on track."

Evgeni Malkin made a game of it with a pair of powerplay markers - one at 5:42, and the other at 14:41, but Smith held his ground in a frenetic final minute to score the victory.

"If someone were to ask you if you'd be happy with first place at this time of the year, I think you'd be pretty happy with that," Smith said. "Every team's going to go through a bit of a low, and I think it's important to get it back as quick as you can and play like we're capable of.

"Today was a good (example) of that."

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