The Pittsburgh Penguins (3-2-2) again struggled to convert chances but instead of misses, 6-foot-6 Calgary Flames (5-1-1) goalie Jacob Markstrom absorbed the Penguins chances. The ones Markstrom didn’t swallow, the collapsing Calgary defense did just enough to keep them out of the net.
After plenty of good saves, Penguins backup goalie Casey DeSmith allowed one stoppable goal and one softie early in the third period when he lost his angle. DeSmith was otherwise very good until midway through the third period, but Markstrom was great and Calgary beat the Penguins 4-0 at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday.
The Penguins were again without Sidney Crosby and Jeff Carter. As Crosby inches closer to a return, Carter should be back on Friday, completing his 10 day COVID protocol.
Casey DeSmith, whose new mask pays homage to the Office TV show and Dwight Schrute, made his second start this season. Johnny Gaudreau (1) streaked down the left-wing, beet the Penguins defense, and slipped the dead cat in the freezer on the far post, top-shelf.
Don’t worry, those are Office jokes (including beet), but DeSmith wore his old “too generic” lid on Thursday.
The Penguins took most of the first period to get their footing and trailed 8-1 in shots after the midway point, but a 5v3 (high-sticking penalties to Blake Coleman and a double minor to Erik Gudbranson).
The Penguins finished the period up 15-11 on shots. Still, Calgary goalie Jacob Markstrom was brilliant in the final minutes of the first period and stoned a trio of Penguins high-danger chances.
The Penguins stormed Calgary in the second period but could not crack Markstrom or the Calgary d-zone coverage. After several minutes of Penguins chances in the second period, Calgary officially dropped back into a defensive, counter-attack posture.
A back-and-forth second period ensued, but neither team could score. Penguins rookie Drew O’Connor had a couple of looks at an empty net but couldn’t free himself from the warm embrace of defensemen to get a shot.
After two periods, the Pittsburgh Penguins led the shot clock 30-23, but the sides each had 17 scoring chances, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.
Calgary sprung for three goals in the third period.
Blake Coleman (3) scored early in the third period on a 40-foot snapshot from the top of the zone. DeSmith lost his angle in the crease, or lost the puck in traffic.
Dylan Dube (1) beat DeSmith from the right-wing circle after a slick feed from Gaudreau midway through the third period.
And Milan Lucic (2) capitalized on a Drew O’Connor fumbled at center ice to convert a two-on-one when he slipped a soft wrister through DeSmith’s five-hole.
DeSmith was good until late in the third period. He stopped 31 of 35 shots but is 0-1-1 this season. Markstrom blanketed 45 shots
3 Stars (with a hometown spin):
- Jason Zucker
Zucker had more great looks on Markstrom than anyone. At one point in the first period, Zucker nearly broke his stick over his own head as he flexed it in frustration.
- Sam Lafferty
Lafferty was flying again. He was all over the puck and had four shots in the first 40 minutes. Perhaps the best Pittsburgh Penguins player?
- Jacob Markstrom
He was brilliant. He was waiting for the Penguins one-timers even those created from lateral puck movement. 45 shots and he earned his shutout.