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10:00 AM PT11:00 AM MT12:00 PM CT1:00 PM ET18:00 GMT2:00 11:00 AM MST1:00 PM EST22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:� BRT, February 16, 2019
PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania  Attendance: 18,667

Flames visit Penguins, look to end skid

Calgary Flames at Pittsburgh Penguins

  1. The first meeting between the teams in 2018-19 saw the Penguins crush the Flames in Calgary on October 25, 9-1, as seven different Pens scored goals. The eight-goal margin in that game is the largest in any game in the league this season.
  2. Calgary has dropped four straight games (0-2-2) for the first time this season -- on the heels of an 11-2-1 stretch. The Flames, who have not won a division title since 2005-06, are tied with San Jose for the Pacific Division lead (and have an advantage based on tiebreakers).
  3. The Penguins allowed 49 goals in 12 games between January 11 and February 9, a 4.08 goals-allowed-per-game average that ranked 28th in the NHL. The Pens' save percentage in that stretch was .876. In two games since then, they allowed two goals on 90 shots (.978 save percentage) while winning twice.
  4. Mark Giordano's next point will be his 56th of this season, matching his career high (established in 2015-16). Giordano ranks in the top five among defensemen in 2018-19 in goals (12), assists (43), points (55) and plus/minus (plus-29).
  5. The Penguins' last eight goals have been scored by eight different players, including February trade acquisitions Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann and January call-up Teddy Blueger. Sidney Crosby, who has five points in his last three games, has had multiple points in six of his last 11 contests versus Calgary.
  6. The Flames' Mark Giordano and the Penguins' Brian Dumoulin are tied for the NHL lead in plus/minus at plus-29. Neither was a plus-player last season: Giordano was even, while Dumoulin was a career-worst minus-5.

The Calgary Flames and Pittsburgh Penguins, who meet Saturday at PPG Paints Arena, each have 25 games left in the regular season and are feeling some pressure.

The Penguins, who have won two in a row following a four-game losing streak, are hardly assured of making the playoffs but are making that their focus.

"It doesn't matter what's going on all season; the most important (thing) is the playoffs," Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin said. "If we make the playoffs, it's like new life, a new challenge for us. We have a great team. We understand it's a tough league, but we try to win every game. We look to the playoffs. We look forward to being in the playoffs and show (our) best game in the playoffs."

Malkin has missed six of the past seven games, five because of a neck injury and Wednesday's 3-1 win against Edmonton because of a suspension for a high stick. He also has struggled with confidence most of the season, despite his 56 points in 51 games.

"It's not easy this year, but I'm trying to do my best," Malkin said. "In practice, (I work) so hard every day, work a little bit extra on the ice with stick handling, with skating. I feel OK right now. I feel like my confidence (will) come back to me and I'll do my best to help the team to win."

Justin Schultz, one of Pittsburgh's top two-way defensemen, has been practicing full tilt, and was activated Friday. He has been out since Oct. 13 because of a broken leg.

Coach Mike Sullivan said Friday that Schultz would be a game-time decision.

"It's up to me. When I feel I'm ready to play, I'll be in," Schultz said.

Penguins No. 1 goaltender Matt Murray has stopped 88 of 90 shots in during this week's two wins.

Sullivan said Murray's confidence "carries over to the group in front of him. He's got a calming effect with the way he plays the position. He's very positionally sound -- it's an economy of motion. ... That's when Matt is at his very best, and he's certainly been very good the past couple of games."

Calgary is where the Penguins were last weekend - sitting on four straight losses. The Flames also have lost five of six and have fallen into a tie with San Jose atop the Pacific Division.

"Better effort," Flames coach Bill Peters said of his club's latest setback, a 3-2 shootout loss Thursday at Florida. "Fine line right now, this time of year.

"We've got another level that we can get to. I don't think we're all dialed in, 100 percent committed to doing it right each and every shift, so there's room to grow here."

But there has also been growing concern, which led to shuffled lines for the game against the Panthers coming off a 6-3 loss at Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

Sam Bennett moved up to the second line with Matthew Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund.

"I don't know if it's a reward or just trying to mix things up a little bit," Bennett told the Calgary Sun. "Either way, it's a good opportunity any chance you get to play with them."

Winger Michal Frolik was moved to the fourth line with Derek Ryan and Garnet Hathaway.

"We played better, for sure," defenseman Rasmus Andersson said of Thursday's game. "It gets tighter and tighter with each game that goes by. ... It was a step in the right direction."

--Field Level Media

Updated February 15, 2019

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