Thursday, January 21, 2010
Blackhawks return to form in 3-1 win over Flames
By JESSE ROGERS
CALGARY, Alberta -- Now, that’s more like it.
The Chicago Blackhawks returned to form with a solid skating night, outlasting the Calgary Flames 3-1. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville was looking for a rebound effort after Tuesday’s loss in Ottawa and he got it.
“Really good response across the board,” Quenneville said after the game.
Despite the Hawks’ edge in play through the first two periods, the game was tied 1-1 entering the third. Miikka Kiprusoff was the reason for that. He made point-blank saves throughout the first 40 minutes, including two on great chances by John Madden and Marian Hossa.
“Their goaltender made a lot of big saves and I thought it was good on our part to sick with it and not get frustrated by that,” Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith said.
Both teams exchanged power play goals in the middle 20, and the Hawks were a fluke bounce away from allowing the Flames to break their five-game losing skid. But that’s when the fourth line came up big.
“When [Colin Fraser] gets the puck on the right side he always does the little saucer in the middle, in the area, and I was just fortunate enough to get it and just try to put it on the net and [Ben Eager] drove to the net,” Tomas Kopecky said of his assist on the winning goal.
“[I was] just going to the net hard,” Eager said of the winning goal. “Got a bounce. It was nice. I didn’t really see the shot coming. I felt it hit my foot.”
Patrick Kane opened the scoring with the man advantage after missing on a penalty shot earlier in the game.
“We played better,” Kane said. “I thought they played really hard tonight, to be honest with you. One of the better times they’ve played against us, but overall, for us, one of the better games. I was happy to score after missing the penalty shot.”
“I thought it was a lot better,” Keith said. “A big improvement than [what] we did in Ottawa.”
Hawks netminder Antti Niemi won again and continues to garner more playing time. Quenneville all but committed to him for Saturday’s contest against the Vancouver Canucks.
“We liked what we saw today, Quenneville said of Niemi. “He’s playing well so [it’s] tough to take that away.”
Brent Sopel left the game after taking another block shot in the “upper body” area. He will be re-evaluated on Friday.
The Hawks limited the Flames to 20 shots.
Joel Quenneville praised Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith’s play against the Flames. Keith had a team-high five shots, blocked two, and scored on the empty netter for his 11th goal of the year.