The Marc of champions

Sidney Crosby split the Flames defence on this play and put the puck top shelf past Flames...

Sidney Crosby split the Flames defence on this play and put the puck top shelf past Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff to open the game's scoring last night. (QMI Agency/Al Charest)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

Sid the Kid headlined the marquee.

Marc-Andre Fleury stole the show for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Sidney Crosby’s rare visit to Calgary provided all the fodder needed for last night’s clash between the Flames and Pittsburgh Penguins an event, but Fleury showed why he was also a No.-1 overall draft pick in backstopping his team to a 3-1 victory.

Calgary (26-15-6) has struggled to score for more than a month, and Fleury kept that trend alive with a 37-save performance.

At one point in the third period, while the Flames were pressing, shots were 10-0, but they couldn’t find that game-tying tally and dropped their second straight.

Plus, the Flames fall out of top spot in the Northwest Division. They are tied with Colorado in games played, points and wins, but the Avs have won the season series.

Crosby’s second appearance at the Saddledome for the Penguins gave the sellout crowd of 19,289 reason to buzz long before puck drop in anticipation.

It didn’t take him long to deliver what all those wearing replicas of his jersey were looking for.

Less than four minutes into the game, he grabbed the puck just outside the blueline, split through the defensive pair of Jay Bouwmeester and Mark Giordano, and deked out goalie Miikka Kiprusoff for his 30th goal of the season.

It was about the only scoring chance for the Penguins in the opening period, albeit a testament to what Crosby can do. The Flames took over, but it seemingly took forever to finally solve Fleury.

Pick a Flames player, and it’s a good bet he was left shaking his head at one point because of the Penguins netminder.

Just when it seemed the Flames couldn’t find the mark, Giordano finished off a powerplay midway through the middle period with his sixth goal of the season.

The Flames threatened for nearly the whole two minutes of the powerplay before Giordano stepped in from the point and ripped a short-side shot into the net for the tally.

It’s Calgary’s first man-advantage marker in six games, snapping a 0-for-18 skid. But it only took 73 seconds for the Penguins to regain the lead with a rare powerplay marker of their own.

How the Penguins can have the 29th-ranked powerplay in the NHL is beyond reason considering the talent they have, but they came through when Bill Guerin deflected Sergei Gonchar’s point shot for his 15th of the year.

From there, the onus was on Fleury — one of three goalies selected to Canada’s Olympic hockey team — to hold the fort. After making a bunch of key saves through the first two periods, Fleury was downright larcenous in the final frame.

He denied Nigel Dawes on an early period breakaway, when the Flames forward came out of the penalty box to find the puck on his stick, and then stopped both Jarome Iginla and Jamie Lundmark moments later.

It didn’t end there, either.

Rene Bourque couldn’t beat him with his five shots. Neither could Dion Phaneuf, who fired 13 shots toward the goal, five of which made it on net.

Tyler Kennedy iced the game with a late third-period tally.

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca


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