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Gaudreau scores twice, Flames defeat Penguins

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames have started to round into more familiar form.

Johnny Gaudreau scored twice, Karri Ramo made 23 saves and the Flames defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday.

Sam Bennett and Sean Monahan each had a goal and an assist, and Joe Colborne also scored for the Flames (5-9-1), who have won back-to-back games for the first time this season. Calgary defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 on Thursday and has won three of four after starting the season with two wins in its first 11 games.

"I think we didn't start out the way we wanted to, but we've been working hard in practices and trying to figure out what we've been doing wrong," Gaudreau said. "I think we've been limiting our turnovers, just playing a lot better defensively, which is leading to more offense. I think that's what's happening right now.

"We played well defensively. We played well offensively. Everyone showed up tonight to play three great periods. It's just exciting to be in this locker room after a game like that."

The victory was the Flames' first in 10 games against the Penguins, dating to Dec. 5, 2005.

Phil Kessel and Nick Bonino scored for Pittsburgh (9-5-0), which saw its six-game winning streak end one victory shy of its longest streak under coach Mike Johnston. Pittsburgh won seven in a row from Oct. 25-Nov. 8, 2014, during Johnston's first season. The loss came in the second of back-to-back games for the Penguins, who won 2-1 at the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

"Every team has back-to-backs," forward Eric Fehr said. "We've caught teams on the tail end of back-to-backs and they play hard. It is a tough trip coming out to Western Canada, but we've still got to battle."

Colborne put the Flames ahead at 7:37 of the first period. Calgary continued applying pressure after Sidney Crosby's penalty expired, and Bennett backhanded a pass through the high slot to Colborne, whose wrist shot beat Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

Kessel tied the game at 13:06 with a shot that slipped through Ramo's five-hole, but two goals 50 seconds apart late in the period put the Flames ahead to stay.

During Calgary's third power play, Mikael Backlund spotted Sean Monahan from below the goal line; he sent a cross-crease pass to a waiting Gaudreau for a quick one-timer that beat Fleury at 16:21.

"It was a great look from him," Gaudreau said of Monahan's pass, which left him with a wide-open net. "I was just sitting there with an empty net tap-in. I think we were making plays all night. We played really well, solid defensively and offensively. It was nice to get that going again."

Bennett made it 3-1 when he took a pass from Michael Frolik at the Calgary blue line, skated up ice and toe-dragged around Penguins defenseman Ian Cole before a quick forehand-backhand move beat Fleury at 17:11.

"I was just holding it," said Bennett, who has three goals and eight points in his past six games. "I was thinking of shooting and then he reached a little bit. It was a fast play, but I just pulled it inside and I'm happy it worked. Once I made the first move the next thing I knew I was one-on-one with Fleury. I just made a move and I'm happy it went in."

Calgary made it 4-1 midway through the second period. Dougie Hamilton's initial shot was stopped, but the rebound popped off the stick of Gaudreau and into the air, where Monahan batted the puck with the shaft of his stick past Fleury at 9:05.

"That's kind of the night it was," Fehr said. "Pucks seemed to be hitting their sticks. Even a couple neutral zone ones where we had a good break. We thought we had a good chance and they knocked it out of the air and they knocked it back."

With Bennett in the penalty box, Bonino beat Ramo short side over the shoulder at 14:17 to cut the lead to 4-2.

But the Penguins, which entered the game losers of 36 straight when trailing after two periods, couldn't solve Ramo again. The Flames goaltender stopped Kessel's one-timer with a sharp stick save at 10:53, and Gaudreau capped the win by hitting the empty net with 2:19 remaining.

The Flames will try to carry their momentum into a four-game road trip starting Tuesday against the Florida Panthers.

"It was huge for us to get those two wins here at home and get some back-to-back wins there," Gaudreau said. "We have a huge trip coming up. We're excited, and we have to get right after it the next game."

The Penguins are off until the Montreal Canadiens come to Consol Energy Center on Wednesday.

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