The Penguins won’t play another game at Consol Energy Center until Jan. 3, and they can’t be very happy about that. After all, their 4-3 victory against Calgary there Saturday was their 10th in a row on home ice. They might not be unbeatable in their home rink, but they’re closer than just about anyone based east of Anaheim. That’s a big part of the reason the rest of the Eastern Conference is struggling to maintain visual contact with them. And it certainly bodes well for the Penguins if they can sustain anything close to that pace over the balance of the regular season. “We never really talk about it — or, we haven’t talked about it yet — but as we get further along in the season, you want this place to be a real home-ice advantage for you,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “Where teams come in here and know that it’s going to be tough to win.” Of course, with the roll the Penguins have been on lately — think huge boulder on a steep mountainside — they probably could spend 60 minutes on an ice floe in the Arctic and come away with a couple of points to show for it. Doesn’t matter where they play. Doesn’t matter who they play. Doesn’t even matter, to some extent, how well they play. Certainly, they did not overwhelm the Flames, who rallied from a 4-1 deficit and battled in an attempt to force overtime until the waning seconds of play. Calgary’s tenacity earned it a lot of respect, though not a point. “We didn’t have our best stuff today,” Niskanen said. “We had to muck-and-grind it out in the third period to hold onto the lead we’d built. Guys worked and competed really hard.” For a stretch in which the Penguins lineup has seemed to change almost every game — usually because a prominent player has been injured — their willingness to work, to sacrifice, has been a constant. Some of the names are different, but the effort remains the same.
Penguins on 7-game win streak with defeat of Flames, 4-3
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Dec 22