CALGARY — It was another strong performance from Mike Smith on Thursday night.
"I thought he was OK," said Flames coach Glen Gulutzan, trying to keep a straight face.
But he couldn’t pulled it off. Right away came a smile and a far more accurate description.
"It was one of the best goalie performances I’ve seen in a long time," he added.
Smith was particularly good in the first period as the Penguins carried the play, outshooting Calgary 19-8, but were unable to solve the veteran goaltender.
"He’s been our best player this year. It’s not even close," said Giordano. "When your goalie gives you a performance like that, it’s pretty hard to lose."
Making his 12th start, which is tied for the league-lead, Smith improved his save percentage to an impressive .936. The 35-year-old was acquired in an off-season trade after having spend the last six seasons with Arizona.
"Obviously you want to get off to a good start," said Smith. "You want to make an impact and be an impact player and be solid back there for this group and get the confidence from them early in the season. I just want to keep that going and go game by game."
On the game-winner, Giordano fired a perfect shot over the glove of Tristan Jarry off a set-up by Matthew Tkachuk.
It gives Calgary consecutive wins over Washington and Pittsburgh. The Flames beat the Capitals 2-1 on Sunday.
"They’re both powerhouses in the East and we want to be touted as one of those teams in the West. It’s a big confidence boost for our group," said Smith. "Especially in close games. you have to learn to win those close games early in the season. It goes a long ways with your confidence going down the stretch and into the playoffs."
Patric Hornqvist scored for Pittsburgh (8-5-2). Jarry made 32 saves in his first start of the season. The Penguins wrap up their season-long five-game road trip on Saturday in Vancouver. So far, they are 1-2-1.
"We came out pretty hard. Our first period was really good. I thought we could have capitalized on a couple of our chances and maybe grab the lead and make them chase," said Kris Letang, who was originally credited with Pittsburgh’s goal before an official scoring change gave it to Hornqvist.
With Matt Murray getting a rest after backstopping the Penguins to a 3-2 win Wednesday night in Edmonton, Jarry made just his second career start. He was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Oct. 30 when Antti Niemi was placed on waivers.
"It’s not the outcome I wanted. I thought I played well," said Jarry. "I thought I played very well positionally. I thought I played tight and I thought it was a step in the right direction for me."
Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby also liked what he saw in the young goalie.
"He played really well. I think that with the forwards they have and the skill level of the power play that they have, he was tested and did a great job for us and gave us a chance to win," said Crosby.
The game was scoreless until late in the third when the Flames got a power play with 4:14 left as Letang was sent off for high-sticking.
It only took Calgary seven seconds to take the lead with Monahan banking a shot in off a Penguins player while Micheal Ferland screened in front.
But less than three minutes later, the Penguins tied it on Letang’s point shot that hit Hornqvist on the way in.
Notes: Flames RW Troy Brouwer played in his 700th career game… Calgary RW Jaromir Jagr (lower body) missed his fifth game.