CALGARY - Despite decent first and third periods, a second period collapse proved fatal for the Calgary Flames Saturday night as they lost their home opener, 5-3 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
After twenty minutes, Calgary led 1-0 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Scotiabank Saddledome was buzzing, the forward lines were clicking, the defence were clearing away loose pucks. The Flames lead could have even been bigger had Jarome Iginla’s sizzling one-timer found the net or Jay Bouwmeester’s close-in shot snuck under Marc-Andre Fleury’s glove.
Then, in the span of the first intermission, everything unravelled for the Flames.
Pittsburgh stormed back with four unanswered goals in a dominating second period to surge in front 4-1, and that would prove to be the difference.
"We had a good first period, we were in good shape, but we just got really sloppy in the second period," Iginla said. "We got outworked but we just kept giving them the puck. Too many turnovers and you’re not going to win many games when you do that for a whole period."
That sloppiness existed in a number of forms.
There was defensive lapses. Pittsburgh had a pair of 4-on-1 rushes in the second, the first of which was buried for the tying goal by Tyler Kennedy.
There was disorganization. A mix-up at the bench and a too many men on the ice penalty led to Matt Niskanen’s power-play goal at 6:40 that put the Penguins into the lead.
There were too many rebounds. Three of the four goals came on Pittsburgh second and third chances.
There were mental mistakes. Matt Stajan got tossed from the circle in a faceoff deep in the Flames end. That forced Tom Kostopolous to take the draw and he was beaten cleanly by Mark Letestu and seconds later, Craig Adams knocked the puck in from a scramble to make it 3-1.
"Tough period," said Flames defenceman Mark Giordano. "We did a good job in the first, we were doing well coming in here, we felt good. But, for whatever reason, they got some momentum, they got a couple quick goals and really took it to us."
For his part, Iginla added himself to the list of what didn't go well.
"I wasn't very good tonight," said Iginla, who was a game-low minus-2. "I just need to get back to work and work in practice and look to be better next game."
While most Flames players had appeared in three to four games during the pre-season, back spasms that sidelined Iginla most of training camp resulted in the 34-year-old not getting in a single exhibition game.
"It's getting used to going at that speed again," Iginla said. "You don’t have as much time. In the summer, you always have time and you can do different things like that but then all of a sudden…It’s a fast game and I wasn't putting things together as quickly or getting my feet moving."
The positive for the Flames is they fought back in the third getting goals from Rene Bourque and Olli Jokinen to get within one before surrendering an empty net goal in the final minute.
"Overall, we can be a lot better so we just have to move on. We have a big road trip now," Giordano said.