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Markstrom shutout punctuates road trip sweep, Flames beat Pens 4-0

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Calgary Flames Pittsburgh Penguins Jacob Markstrom

What a trip. What a finish for the Calgary Flames. What a game by Jacob Markstrom.

Mikael Backlund gets his 400th NHL point. Linemate Blake Coleman scores for the third time in six games wearing a Flames jersey.

Johnny Gaudreau opens the scoring with his first goal of the year, then later feeds Dillon Dube to help him crack his own goose egg. Oliver Kylington elevates himself from healthy scratch to multiple-point and top powerplay performer.

And Milan Lucic shows he can still score – as long as the five-hole is open.

There is a whole lot to like about Thursday night’s visit to Pittsburgh.

But above all, the 4-0 win is what mattered most.

Flames make first long road trip memorable – and historic

Punctuated by Markstrom’s 45-save shutout, the Calgary Flames swept their five-game road trip – leaving Detroit, Washington, New York, New Jersey and now Pittsburgh in their wake. They won in all kinds of different ways, relying on top scorers some nights, using some serious sandpaper in others. Thursday, they got a heck of a game from Markstrom to preserve a fragile 1-0 lead until they EXPLODED in the third to lock down the most successful road trip in recent memory.

The team didn’t even wait until it got home to start working on some of those improvements a rarely satisfied head coach Darryl Sutter mentioned during his morning Zoom availability.

“There’s lots of ways for us to get better, that’s for sure. Even though we’ve been able to use four lines … that means that everybody has to produce. We’ve got lots of guys who haven’t been able to score a goal yet this year,” said Sutter. “We’d like our penalty killing to be better. I think our faceoff percentages are not where they need to be.

“I think there’s lots of areas we can be better at.”

Flames get big first goals from pair of forwards

Well, both Gaudreau and Dube netted their first goals of the season. The penalty kill was perfect, including a 5-on-3 opportunity for the Penguins in the first period. And although they split the faceoffs at 50 per cent on the night, winning a big one on the two-man Pens advantage helped them chew up some of the clock at an important time.

“I think our goalie was outstanding and I think our penalty killing kept us tied,” Sutter said after the game. “Jacob made two or three 10-bellers and I think Tanny (Chris Tanev) blocked two or three shots, too. And I think winning the draw killed about 12-15 seconds.”

Mission accomplished, thanks in large part to those 10-bell saves by Markstrom, who set a new Calgary Flames benchmark with his high-volume shutout.

The Flames are going to enjoy that long plane ride home.

Well, as much as Sutter will let them soak it up before getting back to work.

“It’s a lot better to go home with a win than a loss,” he said when asked about the sweep, not wanting to look back at the impact of the trip in its entirety.

He’s not wrong.

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