Backlund, Bouma help Flames, defeat Pens, snap ski
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Calgary Flames ended a trying road trip with a much-needed confidence boost and a rare win in Pittsburgh.
Mikael Backlund scored the go-ahead goal in the second period and Lance Bouma added another in the third and the Flames ended a seven-game losing streak with a 4-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.
“We know the situation,” Bouma said. “They’re fighting for a playoff spot (in Pittsburgh) and we’re never quitting. It was a big win for us and we did a great job sticking with it all night long.”
Backlund scored his 13th and Bouma his second of the season. Joe Colborne scored his 11th of the season and Mark Giordano his 16th for the Flames, who won in Pittsburgh for the first time in more than a decade.
Joni Ortio stopped 29 shots for his first win in nine games this season.
“It shows the character we have in this room,” Ortio said. “The season hasn’t been going the way we would’ve wanted, but guys are battling.”
Sidney Crosby scored both goals for Pittsburgh and has 28 this season. He has seven points in his past four games. Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves for Pittsburgh, which previously won four straight and 10 of 11 against Calgary at home.
The Flames last won in Pittsburgh Dec. 3, 2005, when Crosby was a fresh-faced rookie, skating alongside team owner Mario Lemieux.
Calgary ended a four-game East Coast road trip by snapping a seven-game losing streak, avoiding a second straight season with an eight-game skid.
The Flames, who lost 10 of their previous 11 games, won for the first time since Feb. 19 against Vancouver.
They also ended a six-game road losing streak as Calgary endured a rough trip before Saturday’s win, allowing at least five goals in four of the previous seven games.
This time, the Flames shut down a Pittsburgh team that scored at least four goals in three of its previous four games.
“You lose as many games as we have in the last while and it’s tough to keep that positive attitude,” Colborne said. “It’s definitely going to be a bit more fun that it has been lately.”
Pittsburgh, which won 12 of its previous 16 at home, had an opportunity to jump Detroit for the top wild-card spot and move one point from the New York Islanders for third place in the Metropolitan Division.
Pittsburgh, which won five of its previous eight, will begin a four-game road trip and a stretch of nine straight games against Metropolitan Division opponents Sunday at New Jersey.
“For whatever reason, we didn’t have the desperation, the urgency that you need,” Crosby said. “Sometimes that happens, but there’s no excuse for that because we need points. We’re in a huge playoff race right now. We can’t accept that. We’ve got to be better.”
Backlund put the Flames ahead four seconds after a double minor to Pittsburgh’s Tom Kuhnhackl expired. Calgary managed just three shots during a lackluster power play until Backlund redirected Dougie Hamilton’s pass above a sprawled Fleury.
Bouma gave the Flames a two-goal lead when he collected a rebound in the slot and wristed a shot over Fleury’s glove hand.
“I was kind of all alone,” Bouma said. “I just wanted to get it up and it ended up in the back of the net.”
Both teams scored in the first 1:58 of the game.
Crosby’s shot awkwardly caromed off the end boards, hitting Ortio’s skate. Colborne tied it soon after, getting a skate on Sam Bennett’s backhand to the net.
The teams traded goals less than two minutes apart again in the second period.
Crosby gave the Penguins the lead when he deflected Patric Hornqvist’s slap shot over Ortio’s left shoulder and Giordano tied it 1:29 later with a sharp wrist shot over Fleury’s glove hand.
“It really showed a lot of resilience,” Bouma said. “It was huge for our group.”
NOTES: Penguins F Josh Archibald made his NHL debut. ... Pittsburgh scratched recently acquired D Justin Schultz for the second straight game, while Calgary sat G Niklas Backstrom, who was acquired on Feb. 29. ... Calgary will begin a six-game homestand Monday against San Jose. ... Penguins F Kevin Porter will miss the rest of the season following an injury suffered Thursday against the Rangers. ... Injured Penguins forwards Beau Bennett and Eric Fehr practiced with the team on Friday.