NHL: Evgeni Malkin, streaking Penguins return home to face Flames
In a rematch from last month, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Calgary Flames will conclude their season series Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.
The Flames beat the Penguins 4-1 on Oct. 25, the second game of a disastrous Western trip for Pittsburgh.
The Penguins lost all four games in that stretch, which also included games at Edmonton, Vancouver and Seattle. They trudged home with questions surrounding them — questions that only increased as their losing streak continued until it reached seven (0-6-1).
Things got a little better over the ensuing week for Pittsburgh, a 2-1-1 showing over seven days. Then they really turned around. Pittsburgh went on another road trip and this time is coming home with a three-game winning streak after games at Minnesota, Winnipeg and Chicago.
“I think it’s huge,” said Penguins winger Evgeni Malkin, who will be feted before Wednesday’s game for playing in his 1,000th game Sunday in a 5-3 win at Chicago. “We (won) all three games. I hope our confidence is back.
“It was not a perfect game (Sunday), but two points is two points. … Just play right, and we’ll have a chance to win every game.”
Malkin had a goal in that win at Chicago, but Pittsburgh blew a three-goal lead before getting late goals from Sidney Crosby and an empty-netter from Jeff Carter.
“It’s something to build off of,” Crosby said of the trip. “We were more happy with our first couple games on the trip … but we found a way. And you’ve got to do that sometimes.”
Crosby had 10 points during the three-game trip and was named the NHL’s No. 1 star of the week, the second time this season he has won that honor.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan and his staff came home with something a little extra, too — as per a promise if the team won all three games, they will grow mustaches for at least the next several weeks.
The Penguins have played just six of their 19 games at home, but starting Wednesday they’ll play eight of their next 10 at home.
Calgary, meanwhile, is 2-1 on a season-long six-game trip through the Eastern Conference following a 5-2 win Monday at Philadelphia that the Flames put away with two empty-netters.
“It gives us confidence to win a tight game like that,” said forward Dillon Dube, who had a goal. “It was a hard-checking game, so to lock it down there was important for us.”
Forward Blake Coleman had a goal and two assists Saturday playing in his 400th game. It was his first three-point game of the season and gave him four points (two goals, two assists) in two games following a stretch with five points, just one of them a goal, in his first 16 games.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to break that seal,” Coleman said. “I’ve been like that my whole career, where they seem to come in bunches for whatever reason.”
Calgary could be without right winger Brett Richie, who did not play against Philadelphia because of what coach Darryl Sutter said was two minor injuries, and defenseman Michael Stone, who has missed the past eight games because of a lower-body injury but joined the team in Philadelphia.
–Field Level Media