Fleury leads Penguins to 2-1 win against Calgary Flames


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CALGARY, Alberta – It was déjà vu, but it wasn’t all over again.

For the second night in row, the Penguins held a 2-0 lead after two periods.

This time, they held off the Calgary Flames, 2-1, at Scotiabank Saddledome.

That was a marked change from one night earlier, when a 2-0 Penguins lead dissolved into a 4-3 overtime loss in Edmonton.

Against the Flames, the Penguins cut back severely on turnovers and played a more solid game.

Or, as defenseman Matt Niskanen put it, “We didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot. We were all pretty disappointed in how [Friday] night ended. We talked about it, getting better with that situation.

“We’d like to think we’re going to have a lot of leads the rest of the year. We want to get better at that situation. A smart third period on the road and much better [Saturday] night.”

Niskanen and Chris Kunitz provided the scoring for the Penguins.

The Flames have labored to score in recent weeks, having been shut out in five of their previous seven games.

In this game, Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves Saturday night -- including a sprawling one with the back of his mask on Calgary’s Mikael Backlund while the Penguins were shorthanded -- for his league-leading 26th win.

“It was nice to have a close, low-scoring game,” Fleury said.

It was the Penguins' seventh win in a row against Calgary. They are 9-3-1 in their past 13 road games and finished their three-game trip to western Canada 2-0-1.

The Penguins, already plagued all season by injuries, added a couple more names to the list.

Brian Gibbons left the game in the first period. He has been playing right wing on the top line. There was no immediate word on his status.

The Penguins already were playing without forward Joe Vitale, who has mostly been their fourth-line center. Vitale missed the game because of an injury. There was no immediate word on the nature or severity of the injury, but he had an ice pack on his right wrist area following Friday’s game and what looked to be a brace on that wrist on Saturday.

He was replaced in the lineup and on the fourth line by Zach Sill.

The Penguins’ other lineup scratch was defensemen Simon Despres, who has sat out three of the past four games.

The Penguins opened the scoring during a delayed penalty call.

Calgary center Joe Colborne was essentially mugging Sill in one corner and was going to be penalized. Sill appeared to be ready to accept Colborne’s invitation to fight when things started happening in the opposite side of the Calgary end.

Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo fed Kunitz in the right circle. Kunitz scored on a sharp-angle shot from near the bottom of the circle for a 1-0 lead at 16:34 of the first period.

Niskanen gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead at 6:42 of the second period. His shot from the right point handcuffed Flames goaltender Reto Berra and bounced in off of him.

Bortuzzo caught Calgary captain Mark Giordano with a thundering hit and his elbow high at 7:04 of the third period, a hit that could get the attention of the NHL disciplinary department.

“The puck was at the end of Giordano’s stick coming up the wall in front of the penalty box, and Robert steps up for the hit,” Bylsma said. “That’s what I think it was – a clean hit.”

Bortuzzo appeared to be driving his body upward as he hit Giordano along the boards. Giordano appeared shaken up but left only briefly. Bortuzzo received a major clipping penalty and a match penalty.

“It happened so quick,” Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. “I saw kind of a charging [violation]. But it was such a flash. The league is looking at everything.”

Calgary broke through with a goal at 11:29 of the third period. Backlund outbattled Penguins defenseman Kris Letang in the left circle and scored from the left dot, making it 2-1.

The Flames had gone 175 minutes without scoring.

“We played a much prettier game and a tough game,” Bylsma said.

“Our guys, I thought, battled real hard and gutted that one out in protecting the lead.”


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