Kadri Paces Flames To Big 4-1 Win Over Penguins
Top players often rise to another level when playing against other marquee names. For the Calgary Flames, it seemed Nazem Kadri was set on making people forget Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were on Saddledome ice with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first and only time this season.
Continuing his torrid start, Kadri extended his season-opening point streak to six with two more goals. In the first period. Exactly three minutes and 30 seconds apart. And both at even strength.
He added a third point later in the 4-1 victory — a statement game for the Flames on some level during this lengthy homestand.
Kadri’s goals were the kickstart the Flames (5-1-0) needed after dominating the play with nothing to show for it for nearly three quarters of a period. They hit double digits in shots a while back and were rounding their way up to 20 when Kadri roofed a pass from Andrew Mangiapane top shelf, blocker side, on Casey DeSmith. He went to the same spot for his second goal, after snatching the puck out of the grasp of Danton Heinen after rookie Sam Poulin sent an errant pass his way.
The 2-0 lead after 20 minutes was a cushion the Calgary Flames haven’t enjoyed this season with early game struggles contributing to more comeback hockey than playing with leads through the first handful.
Instead, it was the Penguins playing catchup. Despite playing the previous night, the Penguins had quite a push in the second period. But not before Jonathan Huberdeau scored his first goal as a member of the Flames to give the hosts a three-goal lead. Three minutes into the second frame, Huberdeau sent a long shot high past DeSmith. You guessed it — blocker side, under the bar.
The veteran playmaker who signed a franchise-record deal with the Calgary Flames this summer looked half excited, half relieved to get that marker. He spoke earlier in the day about sending more shots at the net himself despite leading the NHL with 85 assists last season.
A couple of penalty calls against the Flames allowed the Pens to gain some momentum. Fortunately for the Flames, goaltender Jacob Markstrom was up to the script flip in the period. He faced 20 from the Pens and only let one past him. That’s after fielding just a half dozen in the first frame. Only Evgeni Malkin’s tap-in on a Pens powerplay spoiled the shutout bid.
Michael Stone scored his second of the season to restore the three-goal lead during a strong shift from the Flames’ fourth line.
Once again it was an imperfect game head coach Darryl Sutter and his crew can use for teaching and keeping the team humble. But it was pretty close to the kind of 60-minute effort they’re looking for.