James O'Brien

Kris Letang, Johnny Gaudreau

Flame out: Calgary ends Pens’ winning streak at 6


CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Johnny Gaudreau scored twice and had an assist to lead the Calgary Flames to a 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.

Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett each had a goal and an assist, Joe Colborne also scored, and Mikael Backlund had three assists for Calgary. Karri Ramo had 23 saves to help the Flames win consecutive games for the first time this season and snap a nine-game losing streak against the Penguins.

Phil Kessel and Nick Bonino scored for Pittsburgh, which finished 3-1-0 on a four-game road trip. Marc-Andre Fleury had 26 saves.

With the score tied 1-1, Gaudreau put the Flames ahead for good by converting a slick feed from Monahan on a power play with 3:39 left in the first. It was the first power-play goal given up by Pittsburgh in seven games.

Gaudreau capped the scoring with empty-netter with 2:09 left for his second goal of the night and team-leading 17th point of the season.

The sophomore’s big night came with his parents and grandparents among the family that had traveled to Calgary to watch the game.

Fifty seconds after Gaudreau gave his club the 2-1 lead, Bennett made it 3-1 with 2:49 left in the first on a dazzling effort that brought the sell-out Saddledome crowd of 19,289 to their feet.

Bennett darted into the Penguins zone, did a toe-drag to turn defenseman Ian Cole around, then fired a shot past Fleury.

In the second period, Calgary opened up its first three-goal lead of the season on Monahan’s first goal in nine games at 9:05. He batted the puck in out of the air after it had been knocked over to him out of the air by Gaudreau.

Pittsburgh cut the deficit to 4-2 when Bonino went top corner on a power play with 5:43 left in the second.

Ramo had to be sharp late in the second to keep the Penguins from inching closer. He held the post to deny Evgeni Malkin on a backhand as he cut in, then made a sharp glove save to thwart Chris Kunitz.

Calgary had a chance to restore the three-goal lead when David Jones was awarded a penalty shot, but he fired wide.

Fleury entered the game second in the NHL with 1.74 goals-against average and fourth with a .939 save percentage.

NOTES: Pittsburgh is 0-31-6 in the last 37 games in which they’ve trailed after two periods. … The Flames open up a four-game road trip Tuesday in Florida. … Flames F Micheal Ferland (lower body) has been cleared for contact and could return this road trip. He’s missed eight games.

Michal Neuvirth, your current NHL shutout leader

Michal Neuvirth

Could Michal Neuvirth be this season’s answer to Devan Dubnyk?

OK, maybe that’s a stretch … although plenty of people dismissed Dubnyk as he enjoyed an unexpected near-Vezina campaign in 2014-15, too.

If there’s at least one parallel between the two, it’s that Neuvirth is picking up the slack for a struggling entrenched No.1 goalie. (Alright, it’s true that Dubnyk seemingly took over for multiple goalies …)

By stopping 28 shots by a dangerous Winnipeg Jets team, Neuvirth helped the Flyers break a six-game losing streak. He also earned his third shutout of the season, making him the early league leader in that elusive category.

Neuvirth’s 3-2-1 record won’t make him an award finalist, but he’s been a steadying force for the Flyers, sporting an impressive .945 save percentage.

It’s quite a step up for a guy who likely felt at a career crossroads as he struggled with the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders last season.

If nothing else, he must be feeling a lot more optimistic about his NHL future than about a month ago.

All kinds of drama, bad blood in Habs’ win over Bruins

P.K. Subban Brad Marchand

Plenty of penalties. Plenty of controversy surrounding various penalties.

… Not plenty of love.

In an era of sports where athletes are sometimes accused of being too chummy, there’s indeed something brewing between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.

The Canadiens managed a 4-2 win thanks to scoring three unanswered goals in the third period.

As much as the Bruins rued their poor finish and arguable disciplinary lapses, it was hard not to rubber neck a bit out of the more scandalous elements of tonight’s game.

Take, for instance, claims of “acting” from both sides/bad decisions that resulted in penalties.

(There was also Andrei Markov‘s … interaction with the Bruins’ bench, as Puck Daddy shares.)

Tomas Plekanec drew some derision for a penalty he drew on David Krejci, but one way or another, Krejci regrets that moment.

It’s not like this wasn’t a two-way street of shaky hits and debated calls, though.

Backstrom and forth: Caps win a weird one vs. Leafs

At first, it seemed like the story would be all about Alex Ovechkin seeing his second goal of the night (and would-be record-breaker) dissolve away with a coach’s challenge.

MORE on Ovechkin’s tying goal and negated record-breaker here

With it, it appeared that the Washington Capitals would go from at least a standings point to a controversial 2-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It sure seemed that way … until there was about a second left in the third period. Nicklas Backstrom scored then 2-2 tally with .8 seconds left, changing much of the narrative after that.

Ovechkin didn’t score during a typically hectic 3-on-3 OT session, but he did notch the shootout winner, and with that the Capitals won 3-2 (SO). Washington improves to 10-3-0 in 2015-16.

Toronto’s hard luck and hard lessons continue; the Maple Leafs are now 2-8-4 with two straight losses beyond regulation and three consecutive defeats in general.

This was a pretty wacky finish, so enjoy the full highlights from CSN Mid-Atlantic.

Uh oh, Ondrej Palat gets injured in Lightning loss

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The Tampa Bay Lightning are already struggling to score to surprising degree in 2015-16. Losing Ondrej Palat wouldn’t help matters.

As you can see from the video above, Nino Niederreiter landed on Palat’s leg in a very unfortunate way, and it looked pretty ugly on the ice.

At the moment, it’s a very unlucky accident, though it’s too early to say what kind of damage might have occurred.

Palat was able to get to the Lightning’s bench, but after that, he was helped to the locker room. PHT will keep an eye out for updates regarding the two-way forward’s condition.

Update: The Lightning reported that he suffered a “lower-body injury” and will not return.

The Wild shut the Lightning out 1-0, so those scoring concerns aren’t exactly dying down.