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Sharangovich shines as Flames rally to burn Penguins 4-3

Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Chad Ruhwedel (2) keeps Calgary Flames forward Andrew Mangiapane (88) away from goalie Tristan Jarry (35) during second period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Saturday, March 2, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Chad Ruhwedel (2) keeps Calgary Flames forward Andrew Mangiapane (88) away from goalie Tristan Jarry (35) during second period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Saturday, March 2, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
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Calgary celebrated the retirement of Miikka Kiprusoff's No. 34 in style on Saturday night with a stirring comeback victory.

Yegor Sharangovich scored two goals, including the game-winner with 50 seconds left in the third period, as the Flames overcame a two-goal deficit with 10 minutes to go for a thrilling 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“Everybody's really happy for Kipper and his family and it's really cool to see how much support he received tonight and how much he meant to the city and to honour him with a win is special,” said Blake Coleman, who scored the tying goal.

Down 3-1 midway through the third and being outshot by a considerable margin, Calgary suddenly woke up, tying it on goals 32 seconds apart.

At 10:09 in a highlight-reel individual effort, Nazem Kadri picked up the puck inside his own blue line, slipped the puck through the skates of Noel Acciari as he carried the puck up ice, then he made a slick move to dangle past Kris Letang before pulling the puck all the way across the crease and burying it behind Tristan Jarry to make it 3-2.

“It's a SportsCentre top-10 goal and it's something that electrified the building and the crowd, it was good tonight to begin with, obviously, with the big night for Kipper, and that goal just blew the roof off,” said Coleman, whose team-leading 25th goal came just 32 seconds later.

On the go-ahead goal, Mikael Backlund stripped the puck from Letang along the sideboards and as he took the puck to the middle, he dropped it to Sharangovich, who picked the top corner for his 23rd goal.

“(Sharangovich) was pressuring the one D and I was hoping he was going to give it to the other D and I just jumped him,” said Backlund. “I didn't know who I actually passed it to, I just saw two red guys behind me and I dropped it and a very nice finish.”

Despite trading away key veterans on expiring contracts such as Elias Lindholm and most recently, Chris Tanev, Calgary (30-25-5) has won a season-high five consecutive games to climb within five points of the Los Angeles Kings, who occupy the Western Conference's second wild-card playoff berth.

“We've got a bunch of guys in here that refuse to go down (without) swinging and that's a great mentality to have,” said Kadri. “Everybody understands we're still in the hunt. We're giving ourselves every opportunity possible. Even if there's a sliver of hope, we'll take that and we'll run with it.”

While the trades by general manager Craig Conroy is a signal that the team is building for the future, the players remain focused on the present.

“We're not here to pack it in and look to the future. We've got guys that have won in here, we've got guys that want to win in here, and there's never going to be any quit in our team,” said Coleman. “As long as we got a breath in us, we're gonna have that fight.”

Jonathan Gruden, with his first NHL goal, Lars Eller and Jeff Carter scored for Pittsburgh (27-23-8).

PENS PLAYOFF HOPES FADING

With Tampa Bay victorious earlier in the evening, the Penguins fall 10 points back of the Lightning, who currently hold the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

"We beat ourselves. In a number of different ways,” said Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan. “We had complete control of the game. Played a really good game up until that point and we just made some egregious mistakes and it's hard to recover from."

The Penguins have five games in hand, one of which they'll use Sunday when they are back in action against the Edmonton Oilers.

"We have no choice, we have to keep fighting,” said left-winger Drew O'Connor. “It's a tough way to end that game. We know how important each game is, and we need a lot of them right now. To lose that one when we're in control hurts a lot, but we have another one tomorrow we have to get ready for."

Flames' netminder Jacob Markstrom had 27 stops to improve to 21-15-2.

At the other end, Jarry had 16 stops. He falls to 17-19-4.

NUMBER 34 RETIRED

Before the game, longtime Flames goaltending great Miikka Kiprusoff had his No. 34 retired — the fourth number raised to the rafters alongside Lanny McDonald's No. 9, Jarome Iginla's No. 12, and Mike Vernon's No. 30. In his nine seasons with Calgary starting in 2003-04 — when he was acquired by then-coach and general manager, Darryl Sutter in a trade with San Jose — Kipper led the underdog Flames to the Stanley Cup final once. He recorded a team-record 305 wins and 41 shutouts. He won the Vezina in 2005-06.

The stirring 50-minute ceremony that included multiple standing ovations from the boisterous red-clad crowd, featured a colourful speech from longtime teammate Jamie McLennan, a video montage of career highlights, and Kiprusoff's emotional address in which he thanked the fans and the organization, he also looked over and singled out Sutter, one of the invited guests seated near the podium, saying, “I can't thank you enough.”

NEW D PAIRINGS

Without Tanev, Calgary reconfigured its defence pairings with Oliver Kylington promoted into the top-four where he played alongside Rasmus Andersson. Tanev's old D partner, Noah Hanifin, partnered with MacKenzie Weegar. Entering the lineup was Dennis Gilbert, who was a scratch the past 10 games.

UP NEXT

Penguins: Wrap up their road trip on Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers.

Flames: Play host to the Seattle Kraken on Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2024.

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