Flames edge Pens in SO, tie team mark with 10th straight win
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Kris Versteeg and the Calgary Flames tied a team record Monday night that was set long before any of their current players were born.
Versteeg had two assists and scored the shootout winner as the Flames beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 to match the club record with their 10th straight victory.
Before the franchise moved to Calgary, the Atlanta Flames won 10 games in a row from Oct. 14 to Nov. 3, 1978.
”It’s really cool to be a part of those things,” said Versteeg, born seven years after that streak.
Calgary’s first shooter, Versteeg moved in slowly and made a nifty deke before zipping a shot high past Marc-Andre Fleury.
Versteeg also scored the only goal of the shootout when the Flames beat Pittsburgh 3-2 on Feb. 7.
”When you’re coming down on goalies that are world class like Fleury, you just try to do a move,” Versteeg said. ”You have a couple picked out and you hope it works.”
Brian Elliott stopped Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel to clinch the win.
”That’s a $40 million payroll for three shots,” Versteeg said. ”It’s pretty amazing the three shooters he stopped.”
Pittsburgh had a great chance to win in overtime when Calgary captain Mark Giordano was sent off for slashing Nick Bonino, but the Flames killed off the 4-on-3 power play.
”It’s been a great ride,” Giordano said. ”It felt like bounces were starting to go their way, but we found a way to hang on. A huge kill by the guys in OT.”
Johnny Gaudreau, Deryk Engelland and Dennis Wideman scored in regulation for Calgary, which moved back into second place in the Pacific Division. The Flames are even in points with Anaheim, but have more regulation/overtime wins.
”A great hockey game,” Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan said. ”Hard on Coach’s life expectancy a little bit, but two really good teams battling it out.”
Malkin, Crosby and Conor Sheary scored for Pittsburgh. The Penguins had their five-game winning streak snapped, but still moved into a tie with Washington atop the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals are ahead on the tiebreaker.
”Big point for us,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. ”They’re a hard team to play against. It was a competitive game. It was a fairly even game. It could have went either way.”
Pittsburgh tied the game at 16:29 of the third. Crosby scored his NHL-leading 35th goal when he went to the net and got his stick on Sheary’s rising shot, deflecting it out of midair as Elliott tried to catch it.
”Good hockey game. What we expected,” Crosby said. ”Our power play let us down a bit with the opportunity in overtime, and then probably a couple we could have added to our lead.”
Calgary went ahead 3-2 on Gaudreau’s brilliant individual power-play effort 5:22 into the third.
Darting into the Penguins zone, Gaudreau sidestepped defenseman Ron Hainsey, swung wide to elude a diving poke check then went around the net and neatly tucked the puck inside the near post before Fleury could slide across.
Gaudreau has 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in his last 10 games.
”You could tell, right from the get-go tonight, with a couple other elite guys in the building, that Johnny had some pop and was dangerous and that was a big goal for our team,” Gulutzan said. ”You saw him raise his level and I was very impressed.”
Elliott, who made 32 saves, improved to 13-1-1 in his last 15 starts. He is 21-13-3 on the season.
Fleury stopped 27 shots and fell to 17-8-6.
NOTES: Crosby got his 639th assist, one behind Jaromir Jagr for second on the Penguins’ career list. Mario Lemieux (1,033) is No. 1. … Flames D Michael Stone (upper body) missed his second game. But he did skate on his own prior to Calgary’s morning skate. There was no update on his condition. … Already without injured defensemen Trevor Daley, Kris Letang and Olli Maatta, the Penguins lost Mark Streit to a lower-body injury. The severity was not known. … Ron Hainsey played in career game No. 900.
Penguins: At the rival Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night.
Flames: Host the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.