NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Calgary Flames Preview, Matchup, Picks & Odds Print
Written by Anthony Rome   
Thursday, 06 December 2007 02:36
NHL Headline News

No Added Pressure

If Sidney Crosby felt any added pressure playing his first professional game in western Canada, it certainly didn't affect his performance.

One night after a three-point effort in his first game in western Canada, Crosby looks to lead the surging Pittsburgh Penguins to their third straight victory Thursday night as they visit the Calgary Flames.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Calgary -142 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 78% of bets for this game have been placed on Calgary -142 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

After more than two years of waiting, hockey fans in the western part of hockey's homeland finally got their first chance to see Crosby play in person as a professional Wednesday at Edmonton.

The 20-year-old superstar - a native of Nova Scotia on Canada's east coast - did not disappoint, setting up three third-period goals as the Penguins rallied for a 4-2 victory in the opener of a four-game road trip.

Due to the league's unbalanced schedule, Crosby, the NHL's reigning scoring champ and MVP, had never played in Edmonton, Calgary or Vancouver in his two-plus professional seasons before Wednesday.

The Penguins (13-12-2) will play in all three cities on this trip, which concludes Tuesday at Philadelphia.

Kris Letang, Maxime Talbot, Ryan Whitney and Colby Armstrong scored for Pittsburgh (13-12-2), which has won five of six after a 1-5-1 skid.

"In the third everybody came to play and that's why we won,'' Crosby said. "We skated better and we capitalized. We did a good job of taking advantage of the opportunities we had.''

Crosby's three-assist night moved him into second place in the scoring race with 40 points, two behind league leader Vincent Lecavalier of Tampa Bay.

Crosby has three goals and seven assists during a six-game point streak,

When visiting a city for the first time, Crosby has 14 goals and 27 assists in 28 games. He scored a goal in his only career game against the Flames - a 3-2 home loss on Dec. 3, 2005. The Penguins haven't played at Calgary since Dec. 7, 2003.

"He is a special player. He puts up big numbers and is special to watch," Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf told the team's official Web site. "He is very skilled. He is a guy you have to be aware of whenever he is on the ice."

Overshadowed by the attention Crosby receives, Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is enjoying his best stretch of the season. Fleury has won four straight starts - one shy of his career high - while stopping 86 of 90 shots.

Calgary (11-13-4) snapped a four-game overall losing streak - and an 0-2-1 skid at home - Tuesday with a 3-1 victory over St. Louis.

Dustin Boyd's first goal of the season snapped a tie late in the second period, and Miikka Kiprusoff made 21 saves to earn the win.

A big reason why Calgary finds itself at the bottom of the Northwest Division is its disappointing play at home. The Flames are just 7-7-3 at Pengrowth Saddledome this season after leading the NHL with 30 home wins in 2006-07.

Tuesday marked Calgary's first win this season without a point from captain Jarome Iginla, the team leader in goals (14), assists (22) and points (36). The Flames are 1-3-1 when Iginla fails to record a point.

Iginla has five goals and five assists in 13 career games against Pittsburgh.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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