Flames-Penguins Preview

The Pittsburgh Penguins will spend much of the upcoming holiday

season on the road, but they’d like to bring their lengthy winning

streak with them.

The short-handed Penguins try to make it seven straight

victories overall and 10 in a row at home Saturday against a

Calgary Flames team they haven’t lost to since Sidney Crosby’s

rookie season.

Pittsburgh’s lengthy list of injuries has been well documented,

and forward Jayson Megna is the latest addition after the team

learned Thursday he’ll be out six weeks with a lower-body

injury.

The Penguins (26-10-1) also played again without Evgeni Malkin,

Tanner Glass and their top five defensemen that night against

Minnesota, but had few issues pushing their win streak to a

season-best six games. Chris Kunitz scored 49 seconds into the

first period – the third straight home game Pittsburgh has scored

in the first minute – and the Penguins cruised to a 5-2

victory.

Despite losing an Eastern Conference-high 190 man-games to

injury, Pittsburgh’s top line of Kunitz, Crosby and Pascal Dupuis

has yet to miss one. During this 12-game stretch where the Penguins

have won 11 times, Kunitz and Crosby have combined for 15 goals and

20 assists.

Dupuis has two goals and three assists during the winning

streak.

“It is great to help your team win,” Dupuis told the Penguins’

official website. “At the same time, the pressure is there every

night to produce. You play with Sidney Crosby on a line, people are

expecting you to get some points and do well.”

Malkin will miss his fourth straight game but did skate Friday.

Glass and defenseman Rob Scuderi should return early on

Pittsburgh’s stretch of seven of its next nine on the road, and

defenseman Brooks Orpik practiced Friday for the first time since

being punched, concussed and stretchered off Dec. 7 at Boston.

Saturday marks the end of Calgary’s five-game road trip, and to

have a chance at returning home 2-1-2 it’ll want to do everything

it can to score the first goal. The Penguins are a league-best

21-2-0 when getting on the board first.

That figures to be a tall order considering Pittsburgh has

trailed for a total of 3 minutes, 12 seconds in the past eight

games.

The Penguins have won five straight against the Flames (13-16-6)

since a December 2005 loss in Crosby’s 27th NHL contest. The

captain has played in four of those, netting a hat trick in

Calgary’s last visit to Pittsburgh on Nov. 27, 2010.

The Flames allow 3.11 goals per game, among the worst marks in

the league, but they’ve made pretty impressive defensive strides

over the past three weeks. After yielding an average of 3.79 goals

through Nov. 29, Calgary has given up a total of 18 in the last 10

games.

The Flames are 5-3-2 in that stretch but dropped their third

straight on this trip Thursday, losing 3-2 in overtime to

Detroit.

As the defense has improved, the offense has stumbled. Calgary

has scored two or fewer goals in 10 of 12 games, though center

Michael Cammalleri was relieved to see Mark Giordano’s power-play

goal Thursday – just the team’s fourth in its last 35 chances.

“Our power play’s needed to give our team momentum, whether we

score or not,” Cammalleri told the league’s official website. “We

were finally able to tonight. That was (big).”

Karri Ramo has been big in net for Calgary, going 4-1-2 with a

1.82 goals-against average in starting seven of the last 10

games.

He’ll get the call again Saturday while hoping to slow

Pittsburgh’s league-best power play. The Penguins are 14 for 37

(37.8 percent) during this 11-1-0 stretch.