Penguins-Flames Preview


The Calgary Flames are lamenting their current scoring slump that is reaching levels they're having difficulty explaining, and it likely won't get any easier with the Eastern Conference's highest-scoring team in town.

Calgary looks to avoid a sixth consecutive home loss when its faces the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.

The Flames (15-23-6) have been outscored 24-5 while dropping six of seven, with four of those goals coming in a win over Colorado on Monday. They've been shut out five time during that stretch, including Thursday's 5-0 loss to St. Louis.

''I feel for my players because I see them work every day. For many players, it's pretty tough to ask more than what they're giving us right now," coach Bob Hartley said. "They care. I see them basically mentally destroyed after some games, but we're proud and we're going to keep fighting.''

Calgary has been outscored 15-1 during its home skid, with the lone goal scored by rookie Sean Monahan on Dec. 31 against Philadelphia.

''Individually guys go through some tough times, but never (have I been a part of) something that affected the whole team,'' said winger Lee Stempniak, who hasn't scored in his last 15 games. ''You just have to think you're going to get out of it and believe you're going to get out of it.''

The Flames have led for a total of 15 minutes, 25 seconds during a 2-8-1 stretch, and their 97 non-shootout goals are by far the fewest in the West. They'll likely need to find their scoring touch against a Pittsburgh team that has scored at least three goals six times during its 5-1-1 surge.

The Penguins, though, are coming off a 4-3 overtime loss to Edmonton on Friday, allowing the tying goal with 1:59 remaining in the third before giving up a power-play goal in OT.

"We had our moments, but for the most part we weren't desperate enough and definitely gave it to them," forward Brandon Sutter said. "That's not what we came here to do."

Sidney Crosby has five goals and eight assists during a seven-game point streak after recording one of each for Pittsburgh (32-12-2), which had its three-game winning streak snapped.

''We just didn't match their desperation,'' Crosby said. ''Being up by two goals, obviously we need to find a way to close that game out. We knew they were going to come out hard for the third and we still let them get even, then we took the lead and lost it again.

''You don't deserve to win games when you do that.''

Crosby had a goal and two assists in Pittsburgh's 4-3 win over the Flames on Dec. 21, marking its sixth straight victory in the series. Marc-Andre Fleury, who has won his last four starts against Calgary while posting a 1.75 goals-against average, likely will be back in net for this contest after backup Jeff Zatkoff made 27 saves in the Penguins' first of a back-to-back set.

Fleury has struggled lately, though. He's 6-2-0 in his last eight starts, but he has a 3.31 GAA while allowing at least three goals six times in that stretch. He had a 1.98 GAA in his first 29 outings.

Karri Ramo made 19 saves for Calgary in the first meeting with the Penguins, and he could be in net again for this contest. He stopped 24 shots in Thursday's defeat, dropping to 1-3-2 with a 3.31 GAA in his last six starts.