Our Kent Wilson commented on today’s FGD by saying the Penguins have "limited depth up front, but Crosby is so good it almost doesn’t matter." How prophetic are those words? The Calgary Flames finished a five game road trip with a 4-1 loss in Pittsburgh, but it wasn’t JUST Crosby on Saturday. The Penguins were the better team start to finish and once again, a late Calgary push wouldn’t be enough against a red hot opponent.
Absolute Pittsburgh domination in the first period, as Kent had scoring chances 12-4 in the opening 20 minutes in favor of the Pens…Miikka Kiprusoff was out of his mind, stopping a Sidney Crosby penalty shot and making two or three other very impressive saves to go along with the rest of the stops he was supposed to make. Shots finished 24-6 on the Pittsburgh side, and they could have had more counted chances had shots not gone wide. But…it was scoreless after twenty.
The second period saw the Flames come out with a much better effort, and they were able to start generating a little offence of their own. Jarome Iginla had a great chance for Calgary, but Brent Johnson in the Penguins net came up with a strong save. Pittsburgh would score the first goal of the contest on their 27th shot…Arron Asham potted his third at 6:26 as the fourth line did a real nice job working in the offensive end. The Sidney Crosby show would start at 12:20 of the middle frame, scoring his 16th at the side of the net following a strong shift. Overall, not a terrible period for Calgary, as they were only out chanced 9-8…but Pittsburgh took a 2-0 lead into the final 20.
The Penguins would put things away thanks to a Crosby powerplay goal at 9:12 of the third period…he tipped a Paul Martin shot past Kiprusoff and put the Penguins up 3-0. It would put the Flames into chase mode, and they would be rewarded for a little of that chasing…Rene Bourque was left all alone down low after a Penguins giveaway; Alex Tanguay found him and Bourque cashed in his 11th of the season. It would give the Flames life, understandably, but Pittsburgh’s goalie would answer the bell when tested…Calgary generated a few chances, but Crosby would ice it at 19:23 shorthanded into an empty net.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames lost? There were too many passengers. I know this was a tired team, any team would be…five games in seven nights will take a physical toll on any team. But, Pittsburgh played yesterday as well, and they were sharp and on their game on the second of a back-to-back. Players like Rene Bourque, David Moss, Alex Tanguay and Curtis Glencross were nowhere near as good as they needed to be. Even with a monstrous performance from their goaltender, Calgary couldn’t find a way to match Pittsburgh. Granted, that’s not easy to do…this is an extremely good Penguins team playing their best hockey of the season.
Well, this one was easy. 39 saves in net for Miikka Kiprusoff…he was the best Flames player on the ice, and his effort kept things scoreless in the first period when it could have been well out of reach for the visitors.
Sum It Up
Well, a five game road trip finishes with a regulation loss…granted, just the second regulation loss on the trip. Overall, the Flames went 1-2-2 on the trip, earning four of a possible ten points. It depends how you want to look at the finish of this trip…a tired team finishing off a road trip where they showed some consistency in their game; or an unsuccessful road trip where the team couldn’t find a way to win important hockey games. The schedule doesn’t let up at all, that’s for sure…because they’re right back at it Monday at home to Minnesota.