National Hockey League
Flames-Penguins Preview
National Hockey League

Flames-Penguins Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 7:41 p.m. ET

Entering a game against just about any other team, it might be of note that Pittsburgh's made a trend of needing at least four goals to get a win. Given Calgary's last dozen efforts, opponents should just assume they'll get there.

The now-last place Flames visit the Penguins Saturday needing a win to avoid a second straight season with an eight-game losing streak.

The Penguins (33-22-8) have averaged 4.80 goals in their wins over a 5-3-0 span with at least four in each, which includes Thursday's 4-1 home win over the New York Rangers. They've gone 12-2-2 at home dating to Dec. 21 with 4.00 goals per game and at least four in 11 of the victories.

Against the Rangers, the first three came in the final three minutes of the second period after falling behind 1-0 about a minute before that. Sidney Crosby started it with his 26th, followed by Evgeni Malkin's 25th and Patric Hornqvist's 17th before Phil Kessel added an empty netter in the third.


"I think being down probably gave us a little bit of jump and urgency," Crosby told the team's official website. "Each game kind of tells its own story. ... Whether we got one in the past (against Henrik Lundqvist) or three tonight, I think we're confident we can score goals if we do the right things."

Crosby has eight goals and four assists in nine career games against the Flames, but none of that came as Calgary (26-34-4) won the home meeting with the Penguins 5-2 on Nov. 7 to end a nine-game losing streak in the series. The Flames got two goals and an assist from Johnny Gaudreau and a goal and an assist from both Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett.

Monahan has been impressive over the last month with seven goals and 10 assists in 17 games, but it's almost all gone to waste as the Flames have allowed 4.17 goals per game over the last 12, including a 6-3 loss in Buffalo on Thursday.

Their six-game road skid has come entirely in regulation, but it's still a ways from a 0-11-0 away span from 2012-13. That's not making them feel any better about the seven-game overall losing streak or falling into the Western Conference cellar.

"We say it every day. We don't want to lose," coach Bob Hartley told the team's official website. "We want to win games. We will do what's possible at the limit, to make sure that we go out there, we compete hard, we win games, we battle in games, and if it is to give extra responsibilities to some veterans or to some kids, we're there to get two points."

For that to realistically happen, they're going to have to find a way to stay out of the penalty box. Over the last 12 games, the Calgary penalty kill has gone 36 of 54 (66.7 percent), though Pittsburgh's power play has gone 2 for 27 (7.4) over the same span.

"We've been taking too many penalties and gave up a lot of momentum and they score on the power plays," defenseman Dougie Hamilton said. "I think we've been talking about it and nobody's really changed anything. So that's probably the frustrating thing about it."

Calgary will start Joni Ortio in goal with the 24-year-old seeking his first win of the season, going 0-6-2 with a 3.34 goals-against average in nine games.

He'll be opposed by Marc-Andre Fleury, who's won his last three starts with a 0.67 GAA. He's 7-2-0 with a 1.77 mark in 10 career games against the Flames.


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