The Calgary Flames made a stop in Pittsburgh to wrap up their five-game road trip, looking to extend their winning streak to five to mark a perfect five games away from the Saddledome. Noah Hanifin was sidelined with an upper body injury, so the Flames slotted in Michael Stone, keeping Nikita Zadorov as a healthy scratch. Jacob Markstrom got his third start of the road trip and played a huge role in the game.
Calgary opened the first period with an outburst of offence. The injury-depleted Penguins (playing without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust, Kris Letang, and Jeff Carter) looked completely out of it, and just past seven minutes into the game, the Flames got ahead early. Matthew Tkachuk was battling Brian Dumoulin by the boards and Tkachuk was able to throw the puck out into open ice in the Flames’ zone.
Johnny Gaudreau was aware of the play and tapped it out of the zone. He took off full stride and sped away from two defenders for a partial breakaway. Just at the top of the near circle, Gaudreau got a wrist shot off that went far side, top corner over Casey DeSmith‘s glove for the early 1–0 lead. Gaudreau finally scored his first goal of the season after racking up eight assists (seven primary and one secondary), and it could not have been a more stellar goal.
Onwards from the goal, the Penguins pushed back and Calgary eventually found themselves down two skaters with Blake Coleman in the penalty box and Erik Gudbranson earning a double minor for high sticking on the penaly kill.
On the ensuing 3v5 penalty kill, the Flames were composed, and Markstrom was dialed right in. They successfully killed the two-man advantage and continued on to kill the full double minor as well. The only thing the Penguins had to show from their power play was an onslaught of shots, but Markstrom stood tall and made timely saves.
The Flames held onto the lead heading into the intermission, marking the fifth straight game the Flames scored in the first period without allowing a goal against.
The second period consisted of more pressure by the Penguins, and more astoundingly, Markstrom got better and better as the game went on. His goaltending was capped off with a Save of the Year candidate as he sprawled across the crease and got his stick down to completely rob Drew O’Connor from scoring on an otherwise empty net.
The second period was entirely dominated by the Penguins, but as he did in the first, Markstrom kept the Flames ahead by one. It took until the end of the period before it seemed like Calgary was beginning to turn the tides on the shot pressure, but they’d go into the second intermission the same way they did the first—holding onto a 1–0 lead.
The inkling of momentum the Flames built at the end of the second period was taken right into the third and the Flames got ahead by two goals just one minute into the final frame. Mikael Backlund won an offensive zone faceoff, the puck was corralled by Oliver Kylington, who passed it to Coleman who was drifting back towards the blueline. A hard slapshot from the point went past DeSmith for Coleman’s third goal of the year.
Just past the midway mark, the Flames added to their lead. Dillon Dube became the next Flame to score his first goal of the season on a pure snipe, and he received a pass from no other than Gaudreau, who’s now tied with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the league lead with nine assists on the year.
Less than two minutes later, the Flames went ahead 4–0. Milan Lucic now finds himself with a two-game goal scoring streak after skating into the zone and scoring on DeSmith’s five-hole. The goal was nearly identical to Lucic’s first goal two nights ago against the New Jersey Devils. With the Flames up four goals, the game drew towards its inevitable conclusion.
Credit goes to Markstrom for his otherworldly performance—he stopped 45 of 45 shots and sandwiched the road trip with two personal shutouts. Calgary heads back to the Saddledome with emphatic dominance over five East coast teams. They scored 21 goals and allowed just seven over the five games, and now sit atop the Pacific with a 5–1–1 start to their season.
Check out the data visualisations from the game below!
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