CALGARY — Three kids that represent Calgary’s future showed Saturday night how important they also are to the current Flames.
Johnny Gaudreau scored twice in a three-point night and Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett each contributed a goal an assist as the Flames won 5-2 over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Gaudreau, 22, made it 2-1 and put the Flames ahead for good at 16:21 of the first when he converted a slick feed from Monahan, 21, on a power play.
Fifty seconds later, the 19-year-old Bennett made it a two-goal cushion on a dazzling effort that brought the sell-out Saddledome crowd of 19,289 to their feet.
Picking up the puck at his own blue line, Bennett darted into the Penguins zone, did a toe-drag around defenceman Ian Cole, then fired a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury.
"The guys were jumping and the guys were ‘wow’ and I knew right there it was a special goal," said Flames coach Bob Hartley. "Bennie has unbelievable acceleration and he has some great hands, great hands in tight, and that was a big goal for us."
Calgary opened up its first three-goal lead of the season when Monahan snapped an eight-game goalless skid at 9:05 of the second.
"Sean Monahan is a big part of today for us and a big part of tomorrow and my job with the Gaudreaus, the Monahans, the Bennetts, all our young players is to play them," said Hartley. "Put them in all kinds of situations. It’s an investment and it’s a great investment. Those guys have so much to offer."
Gaudreau scored his second of the night and team-leading 17th point of the season into an empty net with 2:09 left. The sophomore’s big night came with his parents and grandparents among the family that had travelled to Calgary to watch the game.
"Everyone showed up tonight to play three great periods. It’s just exciting to be in this locker room after a game like that," said Gaudreau. "Watching Benny dance like that and Monny making plays backdoor to me, it’s fun to be on the ice with guys like that. We’ve got to keep it going."
Joe Colborne scored the other goal for Calgary (5-9-1), which also got three assists from Mikael Backlund. The Flames won consecutive games for the first time this season and moved to within three points of the San Jose Sharks, who occupy third spot in the Pacific Division.
The Flames also snapped a nine-game losing streak against Pittsburgh, having last beaten the Penguins on Dec. 3, 2005.
Phil Kessel and Nick Bonino scored for Pittsburgh (9-5-0), who had their six-game winning streak snapped.
"We were really separated from each other. We weren’t supporting each other really well. We were going for home-run plays and that’s not the way we’ve been winning lately," said Penguins forward Eric Fehr.
The Penguins finished 3-1-0 on their four-game road trip.
"Our second period was a key time where we traded chances and we can’t play that way," said Pittsburgh coach Mike Johnston. "We just had to make sure we were playing the right way, keep the game in check, more like we did in the third period and wait for our scoring chances."
Bonino cut the deficit to 4-2 at 14:17 of the second but Flames goaltender Karri Ramo, who had 23 saves, prevented the Penguins from getting any closer with big stops right after on Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz.
Fleury had 26 saves for Pittsburgh. He entered the game second in the NHL with 1.74 goals-against average and fourth with a .939 save percentage.
Notes: Pittsburgh is 0-31-6 in the last 37 games in which they’ve trailed after two periods… The Flames open up a four-game road trip Tuesday in Florida… Flames forward Micheal Ferland (lower body) has been cleared for contact and could return this road trip. He’s missed eight games.