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Power outage leaves Pens, Flames out in cold

by Todd Kimberley

"That's where you need a goal, no question, in the last minute of regulation and overtime, with a 5-on-3. You've got to capitalize." -- Calgary Flames head coach Brent Sutter

CALGARY – It was the perfect script for the Calgary Flames' struggling power-play.

Late Monday night, with the score knotted at 2-2 at the Pengrowth Saddledome, Colorado forward Brandon Yip was flagged for hooking with 58.4 seconds remaining.

Then, 43 seconds into overtime, the Avs' Paul Stastny batted the puck into the crowd while on the penalty kill, and was himself banished for two minutes on a delay-of-game charge.

But after 58 seconds at 5-on-4, 19 seconds at 5-on-3, and 1:42 more at 4-on-3, the Flames produced zilch -- and just moments later, the Avs were celebrating a 3-2 shootout win.

"That's where you need a goal, no question, in the last minute of regulation and overtime, with a 5-on-3. You've got to capitalize," said Calgary head coach Brent Sutter after the game. "It's a 'must' time to win the game.

"But we never (did), and our power play has to get better. Our power play's not good enough."

Down the hall Wednesday at the Saddledome, the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins could probably sympathize.

While the Flames and Pens entered Wednesday night's showdown at a combined 22 games above .500, the clubs sport two of the least effective man-advantage units in the League.

The Flames are No. 25 at 16.5 percent; the Pens are No. 29 at 14.3 percent -- and dead last on the road at 10.2 percent.

Since Christmas, the Pens have won just two of nine games, and in that stretch their power play has been on a woeful 3-for-29 clip.

"Definitely frustrating. There are times when that's the difference between winning and losing," captain Sidney Crosby told reporters in Calgary. "I really don't think it's a lack of effort. I think everybody wants to do well. It's just been a matter of not executing well.

"I think the last 10 games or so our power play has done a good job of getting quality zone time. Before that we were struggling to execute. We just have to put the puck in the net. That hurts us. It's just a matter of putting it in."
But with the likes of Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar, Bill Guerin and Kris Letang hopping over the boards with some extra room to move, the Flames remain wary of a breakout.

"You can't look at stats. You see the personnel that they have, and they can break out at any time," Calgary forward Eric Nystrom said Wednesday morning. "We've got to make sure we're sharp, and we're not giving any opportunities, and we're staying out of the penalty box so their power play can't get on the ice. We've got to make sure we're playing disciplined tonight."

Meanwhile, the Northwest Division-leading Flames have gone five games without a power-play goal, and are zip-for-14 since Curtis Glencross lit the lamp Jan. 2 against Toronto.

Sutter devoted the Flames' entire practice Tuesday to addressing the club's power-play woes. Since Nov. 30, Calgary has struck just seven times in 20 games while a man up -- and never more than once per outing.

"We're definitely going over it and know the power play needs to be big for us," captain Jarome Iginla told reporters. “It could have been the difference the last couple of games. We wouldn't have been in shootouts. But we also know over the course of the year, we want to get it to the top 10.

"We worked on it again today. We go over it in video. We all want it to be better, and we all know it needs to be better."

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