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Penguins Extinguish Flames, Continue Their Winning Ways

December 21st, 2013 at 4:20 PM
By Shane Darrow

 

[Photo Credit: NBC Sports]

Seven in a row and ten straight at home. Somehow, the Pittsburgh Penguins just keep winning.

Up 4-1 with one minute left in the second period, it appeared as if the Penguins were going to run the Calgary Flames out of the rink; however, quick goals by the Flames to end the second period and open the third set up quite the finish.

All of a sudden the Penguins found themselves in a familiar situation, trying to cling on to a one goal lead in the third period, which they failed to do three nights prior against the New York Rangers.

The Flames best chance to even the score came with 6:30 left in the game when center Joe Colborne beat Marc-Andre Fleury wide on a wrap around, but the far post would come to Fleury's aid and keep the Pens up by a goal.

The Flames managed to pull goaltender Karri Ramo for the final minute, but the Pens contained the man advantage without squandering a single scoring chance.

The Pens were led offensively by a goal and two assists from none other than captain Sidney Crosby, who now leads the NHL with 54 points.

Crosby has shown game in and game out why he is considered by many as the best player in the world. His goal on Saturday was no exception.

With the Penguins up 2-1, Crosby received the puck in the neutral zone and made one move to head wide as he entered the Flames zone. From the top of the circle, Crosby ripped a slap-shot bar down over Ramo's glove and sent the 18,000-plus fans in attendance at the Consol Energy Center into a frenzy.

Considering the Penguins have been without the Robin to Crosby's Batman in Evgeni Malkin lately, he has had to be that much more effective every night.

Productivity by the top offensive and defensive line for the Penguins has been the main ingredient for success all season, and considering the injury bug has infested the Penguins organization, both units continue to impress.

The top forward line of Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis combined for six points on Saturday. The Flames jumbled defensive pairings to try to contain them, but no pair could slow down the trio.

There was a quick scare when the Penguins top defenseman Matt Niskanen briefly left the bench area in the second period with an injury, which left Simon Despres, with only 63 career games played, the most veteran defensive option for head coach Dan Bylsma; however, Niskanen returned later in the middle frame and eventually led the Penguins with 22:58 time on ice.

Due to injuries, the Penguins have had to rely heavily on Niskanen and 19-year-old Olli Maatta to lead the defense, and they have stepped up to the task.

As of late, Brian Dumoulin and Robert Bortuzzo have played an extended role as well, both acquiring over 20 minutes of ice time on Saturday.

The Penguins now lead the Metropolitan Division by 14 points, and their 24 wins in regulation or overtime is the most in the NHL.

The winning ways will hopefully continue on Monday, as the Penguins will travel to Ottawa to play the Senators in the first of a four game road trip.

Penguins 101 would also like to congratulate Harry Zolnierczyk, who scored his first goal in a Penguins uniform on Saturday. 

 

 

Tags: Hockey, NHL, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Penguins

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