After coming off two loses in two games on the road versus Colorado on Monday, and Dallas on Tuesday, the Calgary Flames were back in the friendly confines of the Saddledome on Thursday night, where they were hosting the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks. Going into the game, the Flames home record was good enough for fourth in the National Hockey League with a 19-5-3 record.
On the flip side, the Blackhawks had the fourth overall road record, with 31 of their 64 overall points come away from the United Center. In their previous three meetings this season, the Hawks won all three matches over the Flames and were looking for a season sweep.
The Hawks got on the board first, just 0:42 seconds into the game, on a quick goal by winger David Bolland, as tender Miikka Kiprusoff was fooled on a bounce on the fresh sheet of ice. The Flames tied it up at the 6:28 mark on Todd Bertuzzi’s 13th on the season.
Bertuzzi was in the penalty box on a holding call, and was sprung by Jarome Iginla, getting behind two Hawks defenders, and waiting out Hawks Nikolai Khabibulin. 13 seconds later, the Hawks took the lead for the second time in the game on Andrew Ladd’s ninth goal of the season. At 14:05, Dion Phaneuf tied the game at two a piece on an unassisted tally that fooled Khabibulin.
The first period ended 2 – 2, with the Hawks outshooting the Flames 10-9.
In the second period, only one goal was scored, when Adam Burish scored the eventual game winner at 11:28.
In the third period, the Hawks added two more goals, at 3:18 by former Red Deer Rebel (WHL) Colin Fraser, and a short-handed empty net goal by Troy Brouwer at 17:52.
The game ended 5 – 2 Hawks, and gives the Calgary Flames their first three game losing streak of the season.
After the game, Flames Captain Jarome Iginla talked about the game, and took responsibility for the loss. “We got out-competed along the walls and on the power play. We’re a team that out-competes teams a lot. We skate and we put them back on their heels and right now we’ve got to get back to doing that, and it starts with me for sure.”
Hawks Andrew Ladd played two seasons with the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen. The 23 year old winger played his best game of the season, with a goal and two assists before the 10 minute mark of the second period, in an arena he is very familiar with.
But the native of Maple Ridge, B.C is quick to credit his teammates. “Our line plays well together. I think it’s a good mix of grit and skill. We’re really comfortable with each other. And we want to be a good line every night.”
Flames coach Mike Keenan said special teams play could have made a difference. “We didn’t score a power play goal. I guess you could give credit to both teams in terms of the penalty-killing. Both teams had five power plays and we had no power play goals.”
The Hawks continue their road trip on Saturday in Vancouver. Captain Jonathan Toews knows his team is capable of playing well on the road. “I think we don’t want to settle for .500 on this trip. I think we can do much better than that. We just play game by game. Going into Edmonton, we weren’t thinking about this game, and tonight, we weren’t thinking about the game in Vancouver (on Saturday). We set little goals for ourselves.”
IN THE CREASE: Nikolai Khabibulin made 31 saves in the win, while counterpart Miikka Kiprusoff saved 28 of 33 Hawks shots.
THE BOX: There were two double minors handed out the game—Hawks Patrick Kane was in the box for four minutes in the second period for high-sticking, and Flames Andre Roy was awarded a double minor for roughing after the Hawks fourth goal.
NOT-SO-GREAT WHITE NORTH: The Blackhawks are 11 – 0 against Canadian teams this season.
UP NEXT: The Flames play a matinee game on Saturday versus the Anaheim Ducks and are at home to the Montreal Canadiens on Monday. The Hawks continue their road trip in Vancouver on Saturday. They have three more games on the road (including Vancouver, then Atlanta and St. Louis) before returning home on February 14.