Flames ice cold at Igloo

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- Missing the open net twice in the final minute, Matt Cooke's misfortune was about the only break the Calgary Flames got last night.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, however, made their own luck in a 2-0 win over the Flames at Mellon Arena.

While Cooke's inability to pad the lead with an empty-netter had any fans he made on the West Coast as a former member of the Vancouver Canucks dropping to their knees in disbelief, his Penguins had them on their feet at the buzzer. And the Flames missed out on an opportunity to push the lead over their Northwest Division rivals back up to five points.

Penguins stars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby also missed on attempts at the open net, although not from prime real-estate like Cooke.

Each earning assists on the night, they did outshine Flames stars Jarome Iginla, Olli Jokinen and Michael Cammalleri.

Where they really exposed the Flames was special teams.

"You boil it down, they got one on their powerplay and we didn't," said captain Jarome Iginla. "I thought that was the difference."

Scoring on the man-advantage in the opening period, the Penguins accomplished on their first attempt what the Flames couldn't do in five tries.

That included a double-minor to Malkin that wound up shifting momentum completely in Pittsburgh's favour as time expired in the second period.

"When you have five opportunities and you come up with nothing, you're not going to win a hockey game," said head coach Mike Keenan. "On the road, you're not going to win it, because eventually that will catch up to you."

It bit them early -- and they were playing catch-up.

Coming in, the Flames knew they had to keep their composure and keep as much of the game at even-strength as possible. Slashing Malkin proved to be costly. Cory Sarich was in the sin bin when Kris Letang opened the scoring at the 8:20 mark of the first period. Crosby kicked a deflected puck onto his stick and fired it through the crease to his pinching blueliner.

Tapping it inside the far post to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead, Letang approached double-digits with his ninth goal of the season. Almost 40 minutes later, the Flames gave up the backbreaking goal.

Rob Scuderi pokechecked the puck off Cammalleri's stick and up to defensive partner Hal Gill, who quickly pushed it forward to Malkin.

Trailing the play, Gill took a drop pass from the Russian star and roofed his second of the season past a screened Kiprusoff to lock up the Penguins victory.

Hitting the crossbar on the Flames' best chance to tie things up while on a powerplay in the first period was David Moss, who was inches away from his 20th of the season.

"That hits the bar and goes in, it's a different game," said Moss, who was one of his team's most determined forwards on the night.

"This time of year, things are so close and games are so tight, that's the difference."

Ineffectiveness on their own powerplay took away from the fact the Flames did a solid job against the explosive Penguins stars in five-on-five action.

The close calls from Moss, Jamie Lundmark, and Curtis Glencross -- who snuck his hard shot through Marc-Andre Fleury in the second only to see it trickle just wide -- weren't enough to console Iginla.

"We came close at times," he said. "But in a 1-0 game with that many, you've got to find a way to make a difference.

"Unfortunately, we didn't."


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