CALGARY, Alberta (AP) – Three players that represent Calgary’s future showed how important they also are to the current Flames.
Johnny Gaudreau had two goals and an assist, and Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett each added a goal an assist to help the Flames beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 Saturday night.
With the score tied 1-1, the 22-year-old Gaudreau put the Flames ahead for good by converting a slick feed from 21-year-old Monahan on a power play with 3:39 left in the first.
Fifty seconds later, the 19-year-old Bennett made it a two-goal cushion on a dazzling effort that brought the sell-out Saddledome crowd of 19,289 to their feet.
“The guys were jumping and the guys were ‘wow’ and I knew right there it was a special goal,” said Flames coach Bob Hartley. “Bennie has unbelievable acceleration and he has some great hands, great hands in tight, and that was a big goal for us.”
Picking up the puck at his own blue line, Bennett darted into the Penguins’ zone, did a toe-drag around defenseman Ian Cole, then fired a shot past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
Calgary opened up its first three-goal lead of the season when Monahan snapped an eight-game goal-scoring drought at 9:05 of the second.
“Sean Monahan is a big part of today for us and a big part of tomorrow and my job with the Gaudreaus, the Monahans, the Bennetts, all our young players is to play them,” Hartley said. “Put them in all kinds of situations. It’s an investment and it’s a great investment. Those guys have so much to offer.”
Gaudreau capped the scoring with empty-netter with 2:09 left for his second goal of the night and team-leading 17th point of the season. The second-year star’s big night came with his parents and grandparents among the family that had traveled to Calgary to watch the game.
“Everyone showed up tonight to play three great periods. It’s just exciting to be in this locker room after a game like that,” Gaudreau said. “Watching Benny dance like that and Monny making plays backdoor to me, it’s fun to be on the ice with guys like that. We’ve got to keep it going.”
Joe Colborne also scored, Mikael Backlund had three assists and Karri Ramo had 23 saves to help the Flames win consecutive games for the first time this season and snap a nine-game losing streak against the Penguins.
Phil Kessel and Nick Bonino scored for Pittsburgh, which snapped a a six-game winning streak in the finale of a four-game road trip. Marc-Andre Fleury had 26 saves.
“We were really separated from each other. We weren’t supporting each other really well,” Penguins forward Eric Fehr said. “We were going for home-run plays and that’s not the way we’ve been winning lately.”
Pittsburgh cut the deficit to 4-2 when Bonino went top corner on a power play with 5:43 left in the second.
Ramo had to be sharp late in the second to keep the Penguins from inching closer. He held the post to deny Evgeni Malkin on a backhand as he cut in, then made a sharp glove save to thwart Chris Kunitz.
“Our second period was a key time where we traded chances and we can’t play that way,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Johnston said. “We just had to make sure we were playing the right way, keep the game in check, more like we did in the third period and wait for our scoring chances.”
Calgary had a chance to restore the three-goal lead when David Jones was awarded a penalty shot, but he fired wide.
Fleury entered the game second in the NHL with 1.74 goals-against average and fourth with a .939 save percentage.
NOTES: Pittsburgh is 0-31-6 in the last 37 games in which they’ve trailed after two periods. … The Flames open up a four-game road trip Tuesday in Florida. … Flames F Micheal Ferland (lower body) has been cleared for contact and could return this road trip. He’s missed eight games.
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