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Penguins defeat Flames for 10th straight home win

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- The beat keeps going for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

They defeated the Calgary Flames 4-3 on Saturday at Consol Energy Center for their seventh straight win and 10th in a row at home.

The Penguins led 4-1 in the second period before Flames forward Jiri Hudler brought Calgary within 4-3 1:03 into the third period. Matt Stajan backhanded a pass from behind the net to set up Hudler's one-time shot from in front of the net, his 10th goal of the season.

But the Flames could not get any of their final 12 shots past Marc-Andre Fleury to tie the game. Despite allowing more than two regulation goals for the first time in Pittsburgh's past seven games, Fleury won his League-leading 21st game, making 27 saves.

"[The defense has] been doing a great job," Fleury said. "They've been doing so well. They work hard to get the puck out of the zone and limit shots. They're patient and they've doing a great job."

The Penguins lead the Metropolitan Division by 13 points over the Washington Capitals, who lost 5-4 in overtime to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night, and the Eastern Conference by five points over the Boston Bruins, who beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1.

Calgary finished a five-game road trip 1-2-2.

"I liked some things about our game," Flames forward Mike Cammalleri said. "The third period was strong, for sure. I thought we did a lot of good things and put some pressure on them and had some pretty close ones.

"Those are the bounces."

After Paul Byron scored to bring the Flames within 2-1 6:58 into the second period, the Penguins scored twice to regain a comfortable lead entering the third.

Sidney Crosby received a pass from Chris Kunitz and raced through the neutral zone before juking around Flames defenseman TJ Brodie and slapping a shot over Karri Ramo's glove for his 20th goal of the season and a 3-1 Pittsburgh lead at 14:44.

"I knew there was a lot of room in the neutral zone, so I was able to get some speed and saw the one D-man kind of commit a little too far over and tried to go back the other way," Crosby said. "I saw some room on the glove side, and I don't usually take too many slap shots, so I knew I had enough time to take a slap shot and was happy to see it go in."

Crosby, who leads the NHL with 54 points, also had two assists Saturday and extended his point streak to 10 games (18 points, seven goals).

James Neal scored his first goal since returning from a five-game suspension 4:11 after Crosby's goal to extend the Penguins' lead to 4-1. Matt Niskanen fired a slap shot into traffic in the Calgary crease and Neal deflected the shot past Ramo for his 11th goal of the season.

Cammalleri didn't take long to answer. He made it 4-2 by driving past Niskanen and wristing a shot past Fleury with 45.5 seconds left in the second period.

"In the second period, it started to get a little too close for comfort," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "Getting out to the 2-0 game there, in the second they had a few shifts, scored a goal. They did have some extended time in the offensive zone and we jumped back at them with Crosby's great goal at the end of a penalty kill, and with Kunitz, Crosby and Neal out and getting a goal to make it 4-1.

"They still kept coming and got back into it. Marc-Andre had to be big there for us."

After scoring in the opening minute of the past three home games, Pittsburgh took a bit longer to get on the board against Calgary. Pascal Dupuis' seventh goal of the season gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead 9:34 into the first period.

Kunitz whiffed on a shot near the left circle and the puck slid between Crosby's legs to the left of the crease. Crosby whipped a shot on goal, forcing Ramo to make a pad save. The puck bounced out to Dupuis in front of the net and he finished the play into the open goal.

Harry Zolnierczyk deflected a slap shot past Ramo 79 seconds later to extend Pittsburgh's lead to 2-0. It was Zolnierczyk's first point as a member of the Penguins.

Calgary forward Curtis Glencross left the game with a lower-body injury early in the first period. Defenseman Kris Russell also left the game with a lower-body injury with 8:28 remaining in the third. Flames coach Bob Hartley said each player will be evaluated Sunday.

"They're two great leaders, but at the same time, there's nothing we can do about injuries," Hartley said. "Unfortunately, it's part of our game and it's going to give opportunities to two more players to step in and get good chunks of ice time and get the job done. So, it's all about character right now.

"If we get good news, fine. If we don't get good news, we'll be facing adversity, and once again I think we'll have to step up."

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