Crosby nets 3 points as Pens hold back Flames
Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - With Sidney Crosby's goal and two assists leading the way, the Pittsburgh Penguins ran their home winning streak to 10 games with a 4-3 decision over the Calgary Flames at CONSOL Energy Center.
James Neal scored once and assisted on another for the Penguins, with Pascal Dupuis and Harry Zolnierczyk also lighting the lamp to support a 27-save effort from Marc-Andre Fleury.
Pittsburgh held on for its seventh straight victory overall after jumping out to a 4-1 lead late in the second period.
"We are just playing with a lot of energy," said Crosby. "Just keeping it simple and playing to our strengths, [we've] got a lot of speed in the lineup and [are] trying to take the load off our of defense a little bit."
Paul Byron, Mike Cammalleri and Jiri Hudler all had goals in the loss, Calgary's fourth straight to close out a five-game trip. Karri Ramo stopped just 19-of-23 shots in defeat.
The Penguins got the game off to an excellent start, scoring twice within a 79-second span midway through a first period they dominated to build a 2-0 advantage.
Ramo turned back Crosby in close on the initial goal, but Dupuis was left all alone to knock the rebound into a wide-open net. Shortly afterward, Zolnierczyk successfully redirected a long drive from Robert Bortuzzo for his first tally as a Penguin.
"It feels good," Zolnierczyk said afterward. "It wasn't something I was overly concerned about but [I'm] just trying to work hard and pay attention to details. It was nice to have one finally go in wearing the black and gold."
Byron trimmed the Flames' deficit to 2-1 with a one-timer from near the blue line just under seven minutes into the second period, but Pittsburgh struck twice more to further increase its margin.
After blowing by Calgary defenseman T.J. Brodie at center ice, Crosby ripped the puck over Ramo's glove hand with 5:16 left in the session, and Neal made it a 4-1 game by tipping in Matt Niskanen's point shot 1:05 prior to the second intermission.
The Flames did get some momentum entering the third period, however, as Cammalleri landed a well-placed wrister over Fleury's left shoulder just 19 seconds after Neal's goal.
Hudler drew Calgary closer with only 1:03 elapsed in the third by elevating a wrister into the top corner of the Pittsburgh net, and the Flames nearly tied it later on when Joe Colborne's attempt struck the post before being covered up by Fleury, who came up with 11 saves in the final period to protect the lead.
"The third period was strong, for sure," said Cammalleri. "I thought we did a lot of good things and put some pressure on them and had some pretty close ones. Those are the bounces."
Crosby extended his point streak to 10 games, during which he's amassed seven goals and 11 assists ... Calgary forward Curtis Glencross did not return after sustaining an apparent leg injury early in the first period ... Zolnierczyk's three previous NHL goals all came with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011-12 ... The Penguins improved their league-best record when scoring first to 22-2-0 ... Pittsburgh has now won six straight in the series, with the Flames' last win over the Penguins coming during Crosby's rookie season in 2005-06.
12/21 20:31:30 ET