It only took the Pittsburgh Penguins 23 seconds to turn the game on its head.
After 40 minutes, the Calgary Flames (1-1-0) had every reason to feel pretty good about themselves. They’d had a shaky start in Pittsburgh, but Jacob Markstrom had been exceptional and Matthew Coronato’s first NHL goal had them leading heading into the third period.
And then, well, if you give a team with the Penguins’ (2-1-0) talent an inch, they’ll generally take a mile.
Eighteen seconds into the third frame, Bryan Rust tied the game. Twenty-three seconds later, Reilly Smith gave the Pens the lead.
When Jake Guentzel got a third for the Flames five minutes later, that was all she wrote. Evgeni Malkin added a fourth, just for good measure, although Jonathan Huberdeau did score for the Flames to add a little intrigue before Rust got an empty-netter to finish the game at 5-2.
For the Flames, it was a come-back-down-to-earth moment after they’d managed to win their season opener on Wednesday night despite being out-played by the Winnipeg Jets.Markstrom stood on his head in that game and helped the Flames steal a win, and for a while it felt like he might be able to do it again Saturday night. He was exceptional throughout the first two periods, making stop after stop and frustrating Penguins shooters who had more opportunities than the Flames would have liked to have allowed them.
None of the Penguins’ goals were Markstrom’s fault, and he wound up stopping 25-of-29 shots he faced. There remains little doubt that his play has been extremely encouraging to start the year. It sure looks like he’s bounced back.
And the vibes were definitely good after Coronato scored the first goal of his NHL career on a late second period power play, ripping a shot from the low circle right into the top corner. It’s the type of goal Flames fans will be hoping they see many, many more of from Coronato, and his smile confirmed just how much it meant to the rookie
But ultimately, the good times didn’t keep rolling. The Penguins jumped all over the Flames to start the third period, and that was enough.
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