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Flames head into break on high note after putting clamps on champs

by AARON VICKERS @AAVickers / CalgaryFlames.com

PITTSBURGH -- The Calgary Flames are breaking with plenty of momentum. 
 
Kris Versteeg scored the lone goal in the shootout to help the Flames beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday in Calgary's finale before a five-day break.
 
Versteeg went in on Penguins goaltender Matt Murray and faked backhand-to-forehand before sliding the puck across the line in the first round of the shootout, and Chad Johnson stopped each of Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang to clinch the win.

"Sometimes you close your eyes and it goes in," Versteeg said. "I was lucky there."
 
Johnson finished with 31 saves in his first start since Jan. 24, a 5-1 loss at the Montreal Canadiens. 
 
"I think for myself, I want to play so you have to win to play now," he said. "It's big for us I think just to come out of Pittsburgh with two points. Even most good teams don't do that in this league. It's good for us. I hope we can continue the momentum and not lose it during the break."
 
Micheal Ferland and Michael Frolik scored in regulation for the Flames (28-25-3), who have won four of the past five games to move into the first wild card entry into the Stanley Cup playoffs from the Western Conference heading into the break.

Video: CGY@PIT: Ferland strips Crosby, buries breakaway goal
 
Calgary will resume their schedule Monday against the Arizona Coyotes. 
 
"Ideally, I wish the break came a week later because we could've played for a couple weeks then taken a week off at the end of February and come back for March," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "March always seems to be a better month and the guys are ready for a final push. 
 
"I do think it still comes at a good time for our group. Lets us have 26 games left. That's not a ton when guys are fresh, especially these athletes. It comes at a pretty good time."
 
Ferland scored on the Flames' 13th shot to break a 0-0 tie late in the second period.
 
He stripped Crosby at Calgary's blue line before outracing the Penguins captain to put himself on a partial breakaway and zip a shot by Murray to put Calgary up 1-0 at 16:19. 
 
Frolik finished a tic-tac-toe passing play off the rush started by Mikael Backlund and continued by Matthew Tkachuk to double the Flames lead to 2-0 just 1:44 later. 
 
The pair of goals came after Johnson extended his left pad to make a toe save on Crosby's backhand attempt from just outside the crease and another off Nick Bonino in the slot, and before another sharp save on Scott Wilson's chance from 22 feet out. 
 
Crosby thought he cut the lead to 2-1 just 3:02 into the third period, but his short-side shot on Johnson hit both goal posts and stayed out. 
 
"We limited Sid as much as possible," Versteeg said. "He's pretty incredible the way he can make things happen really out of nothing. We saw it in the third period. That whole team."
 
Chris Kunitz trimmed the lead to one with a short side shot through Johnson 5:51 into the third, and Jake Guentzel tied the game 2-2 when he beat Johnson at 15:06 after a failed clearing attempt. 
 
Justin Schultz hit the goal post from in tight with a minute remaining in regulation.
 
"They were coming the whole game," Johnson said. "That's their style. It made it interesting at the end there, unfortunately. But we got the two points."

Sean Monahan seemed to have scored the game-winner at 1:59 of overtime with his 100th NHL goal, but the play was called back because Murray's mask had come off.

NOTES: Captain Mark Giordano played a game-high 27:50 in the win. He also had two blocked shots and two hits. Garnet Hathaway led the Flames with four hits in his return to the line-up after missing nine games because of an upper-body injury sustained against the Edmonton Oilers on Jan. 14. Forwards Lance Bouma and Freddie Hamilton, and defenceman Jyrki Jokipakka were scratched for the Flames. 
 
UP NEXT: The Flames return to action following a five-day break against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday (7 p.m. MT; SNW, SN960)

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