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Kris Letang scores shootout winner in Penguins' 3-2 win over Flames

The Canadian Press
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Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby, right, celebrates a goal as Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, left, and Eric Nystrom look on during the second period. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh Author: The Hockey News

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Kris Letang scores shootout winner in Penguins' 3-2 win over Flames

The Canadian Press
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CALGARY - The Pittsburgh Penguins won their second straight road game in Alberta by coming from behind, but they didn't need Sidney Crosby's help to beat the Calgary Flames 3-2 in a shootout Thursday.

Defenceman Kris Letang was the Penguins' fourth player up in extra shots and he ended it by deking Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. "If I make the first move and he goes on his knee, I can go on my backhand and put the puck high and that's what I did," Letang said.

Crosby, who was held without a point for just the third game this season, was stopped by Kiprusoff on his chance in the shootout and Evgeni Malkin hit the crossbar. Petr Sykora converted his opportunity.

Kristian Huselius was the only Flame to beat Penguins goaltender Dany Sabourin in extra shots as Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay and Matthew Lombardi all missed.

Iginla had two goals for the Flames (11-13-5) in regulation time, while Malkin and Ryan Malone, with a short-handed goal, replied for the Penguins (14-12-2).

Because of the NHL's unbalanced schedule, it was Crosby's first NHL game at Pengrowth Saddledome since he broke into the league at 18. It was a sellout at 19,289.

The Penguins complete their tour of Western Canada against Vancouver on Saturday.

Pittsburgh had scored four goals in the third period the previous night to beat the Oilers 4-2 in Edmonton and 20-year-old Crosby, the league's leading scorer and MVP last season, assisted on three of them.

But with the Pens captain contained by Flames defencemen Dion Phaneuf and Cory Sarich and foiled by Kiprusoff, it was up to his teammates to compensate for falling behind 2-1 after two periods.

"Three games in four nights, coming out here playing back-to-back against two hard-nosed hockey teams, two physical games, it's a great test for our team and we should be proud of that for sure," said Crosby, the Penguins' captain. "To come out of here with four points is big for us."

Flames defenceman Adrian Aucoin couldn't corral the puck at Pittsburgh's blue-line and Malone pounced on it and scored short-handed on a breakaway at 11:29 of the third period to deadlock the game.

The struggling Flames were trying to string two wins in a row together after beating St. Louis on Tuesday and start working themselves out of 13th spot in the Western Conference.

But they've now lost five of their last six and embark on a six-game road trip Sunday.

"We know how desperate of a situation we're in," winger Craig Conroy said. "We have to get points and we have to get them whenever we can.

"The defence played well, Miikka played great, but that tough short-handed one is still bothering me."

Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury left the game just 4:39 into the first period and was replaced Sabourin.

Fleury had fallen and was momentarily out of position just prior to that, but recovered to get back into the net. Sabourin made 24 saves in regulation and overtime while Kiprusoff stopped 33 shots.

Penguins coach Michel Therrien did not provide an update on Fleury's status following the game.

The Flames suffered a blow with the loss of defenceman Robyn Regehr to a fractured foot. He took a shot off his foot in the second period, played one shift and then left the ice and did not return.

In the final minute of regulation time, Sabourin robbed Iginla of a chance with a glove save and then Kiprusoff had to drop to his knees to stop a blast from Crosby.

The two clubs traded power-play goals in the second period after Iginla gave the Flames a 1-0 lead in the first.

Iginla had half the net available on his second goal when Huselius made Sabourin commit to his left. Huselius tapped the puck over the Flames captain, who made it 2-1 at 16:34 of the second period.

Malkin deadlocked the game at 13:54 of the second period when he whistled a wrist shot over Kiprusoff's left shoulder.

Iginla deflected Alex Tanguay's wrist shot over Sabourin's shoulder to give the Flames a 1-0 lead with just 27 seconds left in the opening period.

Crosby was cheered by those already in their seats when he stepped on the ice for his pre-game skate, but was soundly booed when he stood at centre ice awaiting his turn in the shootout.

Notes: Pittsburgh's Georges Laraque and Calgary's Eric Godard dropped the gloves and traded punches in the first period . . . Pittsburgh Penguins forward Gary Roberts, 41, is the last member of the 1989 Stanley Cup champion Calgary Flames still playing.

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Kris Letang scores shootout winner in Penguins' 3-2 win over Flames