Chicago Blackhawks: Calgary Flames
CALGARY, Alberta -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks’ 3-2 victory against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
How it happened: After falling behind 2-0 early in the third period, capping a listless 42-minute performance, the Blackhawks rallied back and seized control. Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp scored less than a minute apart, bringing the game back on even terms midway through the third. Then with exactly 18 seconds to play, Kane netted his second of the night, whipping a backhand shot past Reto Berra to seal the win for the visitors.
What it means: The Blackhawks have won four straight and improve to 18-4-4 on the season. The St. Louis Blues also were victorious Wednesday, meaning the Blackhawks continue to hold a one-point edge in the Central Division. With 40 points on the year, they lead the NHL’s overall standings.
Player of the game: Antti Raanta was exceptional in his first NHL start and was the biggest reason the Blackhawks were in the game after 40 minutes. The 24-year-old netminder made 20 saves, many of the brilliant variety, all the while showing the poise of a seasoned veteran in a game that could have gotten out of control.
Stat of the game: Kane’s goal at 9:42 of the third period extended his point streak to a career long of 12 games. Kane has now registered seven goals and 10 assists in a dozen contests since Nov. 3.
What’s next: Chicago’s seven-game road trip wraps up Friday and Saturday night with a back-to-back set against the Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes. The Hawks return home on Tuesday to face the Stars once again before going back on the road for a quick layover in St. Paul, Minn., to face the Wild.
CALGARY, Alberta -- Finnish rookie Antti Raanta could hardly sleep last night, and understandably so.
“I got a little,” he laughed. “There’s a lot going on in my head right now, but I’ll get in a good game-day nap and settle into my normal routine.
“This is a big day for me.”
The 24-year-old will make his first NHL start Wednesday as the Chicago Blackhawks’ seven-game, 15-day road trip continues with a date against the sputtering Calgary Flames.
“I'm sure he's thrilled,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “This is a great opportunity for him. He works hard every day, he has some life when he's not playing and is ready to go in at any moment.”
If Raanta is at all nervous for his first NHL start, he’s certainly hiding it well. Bouncing off the walls with a mile-wide grin, casually stopping even the most difficult of shots at the morning skate, he’s carrying the vibe of seasoned pro.
He did, after all, just make his NHL debut not too long ago, stopping 14 of 16 shots in relief of Corey Crawford last week against the Colorado Avalanche.
With the Blackhawks already on a 5-on-4 power play, the Flames’ Matt Stajan had fallen to the ice and accidentally placed his hand over the puck. His mistake was caught immediately by the officials, and he was directed to the penalty box. Chicago found itself with 1 minute, 42 seconds of a two-man advantage to erase a 2-1 deficit.
For nearly all of that time, the Blackhawks couldn’t find exactly what they were looking for on the power play. They passed the puck around. Patrick Sharp took a crack at net and was denied. Marian Hossa had a shot go wide. Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane couldn’t convert on chances.
The Blackhawks would lose 3-2 in overtime, but it was their power play that secured them a point -- the team’s 13th in 15 games – and proved once again it is no longer an area that will hold them back.
A season ago, the Blackhawks were constantly in search of power-play consistency. They ranked 19th in the NHL with a 16.7 power-play percentage.
This season, the Blackhawks have scored power-play goals in seven of the past eight games and 11 of their first 15 games. They rank sixth with a 21.8 power-play percentage, having scored on 12 of 55 opportunities.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has credited that change to more player movement and more shots. Last season, he thought his team often stood around and was always looking for the perfect shot.
Even when the Blackhawks didn’t score on the power play on Sunday, Quenneville liked what his players were doing with their opportunities. They had nine shots on goals on two power plays.
"We had zone time, and you keep shooting," Quenneville said. "The guys out there with the play recognition, and [Kane] getting a little more movement and motion and Hossa hitting a nice shot. Eventually, you’re going to get a turn."
Kane was hoping for what exactly happened on the final goal, too.
"It’s a play where you can roll up and kind of see the whole ice to see what’s open -- if you have a shot, someone to the left of you, someone to the right of you," Kane said. “But Hossa is so good at that shot. I tried to draw the guy to me and slide it over to him. He made a great shot. It was a big goal to get us back into the game and get a point."
CHICAGO -- Here’s a quick look at the Calgary Flames' 3-2 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on Sunday.
How it happened: The Flames’ Kris Russell scored the game winner in overtime. The Blackhawks forced overtime by tying the game on a power-play goal with 4:19 left in the third period. The Flames’ Curtis Glencross put his team ahead 2-1 with a goal at 2:16 of the third period. Patrick Kane was a key component in the Blackhawks’ two goals. He put the Blackhawks ahead 1-0 with a goal from the left circle in the second period. He then set up Marian Hossa for the late power-play goal. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford was making his second consecutive start in as many days. He made 27 saves on 30 shots. Flames goaltender Reto Berra made 42 saves on 44 shots in his NHL debut.
What it means: The Blackhawks had their winning streak snapped at three games. They fell to 9-2-4 on the season. The Blackhawks had plenty of chances against the Flames but couldn’t capitalize. They had 85 total shots. The Blackhawks have scored power-play goals in 11 games this season. They scored power-play goals in 19 of 48 regular-season games last season.
Player of the game: Kane had his fourth multipoint game of the season. He leads the Blackhawks with eight goals and is tied with Jonathan Toews for a team-leading 13 points.
Stat of the game: Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger has been on a tear at the dot the past two games. He won 11 of 15 faceoffs against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday and won nine of 13 on Sunday.
What’s next: The Blackhawks have two days off before hosting the Jets on Wednesday. The Blackhawks defeated the Jets 5-1 in Winnipeg on Saturday.
“I feel like I need to kind of redeem myself a little bit,” Crawford said during training camp. “I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting and finally it’s here, so I’m getting excited and ready to go.”
That was much pretty much the end of Crawford addressing his mission for the 2013 season. From the season opener against the Los Angeles Kings to the final regular-season home game on Friday, Crawford hasn’t turned his focus away from what’s just ahead of him.
And so far, Crawford’s season-long plan has worked to near perfection. With Friday’s 3-1 win over the Calgary Flames, Crawford improved to 19-5-5 on the season and lowered his goals-against average to 1.94 and save percentage to. 926. He’s tied for third in the league in goals-against average and ranks fifth in save percentage
“Just playing in the moment,” Crawford explained on Friday. “We haven’t gotten ahead of ourselves all year. Now’s not the time do that. We feel good right now. We’re just focused on what we have at the task at hand. We still have another game [Saturday.] We can’t start getting complacent or taking things lightly. We got to keep the same pace and carry into the playoffs.”
Quenneville wasn’t going to stand for that again Tuesday, and his players responded by giving the full effort he required. Not only did the Blackhawks defeat the Flames 2-0, they made sure to attack until game’s end.
“I liked our game tonight,” Quenneville said. “We talked about it before the game, to welcome the challenge of playing at a certain standard of how we compete and how we play with a purpose. I thought we met the goal and the objectives.”
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks will enjoy Friday night the fact they set a new NHL record by registering a point in their first 17 games of the season.
They might even savor it some on Saturday because they have the day off.
But come Sunday when they play their next game, the Blackhawks plan to cease their celebration and return to the mentality that was key to them building their current 14-0-3 record.
“We’re taking one game at a time,” Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said following Friday’s 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. “I know it’s a boring cliché, but it’s actually how it is. It’s fun to break a record and be in the history books, but the big thing is the two points. As long as we can get points in the games here, we’re going to set ourselves up for the playoffs.
“I don’t think we’re in the playoffs yet. We got to keep winning games. I don’t think anyone is satisfied in here. We just got to keep playing as we are and keep believing in ourselves.”
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks set a new NHL record for the longest points streak to start a season as they extended their streak to 17 games with a 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks on Friday.
Here’s a breakdown of how they reached the mark:
No. 1: 5-2 win vs. Los Angeles Kings, Jan. 19: The Blackhawks set the tone for the season in the opener and ruined the Kings’ Stanley Cup banner-raising ceremony by jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first period. Marian Hossa scored two goals and dished out an assist in his first game back since suffering a head injury in the previous season’s playoffs.
No. 2: 6-4 win vs. the Phoenix Coyotes, Jan. 20: This is the only game this season in which the Blackhawks allowed more than three goals. The Blackhawks offense made up for the team’s defensive and goaltending struggles. The Blackhawks scored three times in the second period, and twice more in the third period for the victory. Hossa and Dave Bolland each scored twice.
For starters, Emery had played just once this season prior to Saturday’s game. He started against the Phoenix Coyotes on Jan. 20, so he had nearly two weeks between games. He also didn’t look exactly sharp against the Coyotes, allowing four goals in a 6-4 win.
Despite all those reasons for him to fail Saturday, Emery came through with the performance of a lifetime. He made a career-high 45 saves, stopped all three shootout attempts he faced and led the Blackhawks to a 3-2 shootout win on the road.
“He was awesome, fun to watch” said Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane, who scored in the third period and in the shootout. “We obviously got outplayed, shouldn’t have won the game. He was the only reason we did. It’s good to see, especially for a backup goaltender like that. We have confidence in him. He really showed us tonight. They had almost 50 shots, and he played unbelievable. Two points go to him.”
Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks’ 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames in a shootout at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Alberta on Saturday.
How it happened: Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery was nearly unbeatable on Saturday night. He made 45 saves, including all three shootout shots he faced. Forward Patrick Kane scored a goal in the third period and the lone shootout goal to provide the Blackhawks their first shootout victory in three opportunities this season to avoid a third consecutive loss. The final minute of the third period was frantic and featured the bulk of the game’s drama. The Flames went ahead 2-1 with 34.2 seconds left in the period on a goal by Jay Bouwmeester. The Blackhawks removed their goalie in desperation in the final seconds, then Marian Hossa came through in the clutch with a goal with just 2.1 seconds remaining. The Flames outshot the Blackhawks 47-19, including 24-6 in the third period.
Player of the game: Emery hadn’t played since Jan. 20, but he looked as fresh as could be. He made a career-high 45 saves and was perfect in the shootout. He improved to 2-0 on the season.
What it means: The Blackhawks looked sloppy most of the evening. But thanks to Emery and a few timely goals, they came through for the victory. They also continued their points streak with the win. They have earned at least one point in every game this season and now have 16 points through nine games. The Blackhawks’ penalty kill once again showed why it’s the best in the NHL right now. The Hawks have allowed just two power-play goals in 36 opportunities this season.
What’s next: The Hawks are halfway through their six-game road trip. They travel to face the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday in a matchup of the two of the NHL’s hottest teams.
How it happened: A tight game turned in the Flames’ favor when Michael Frolik took a late second-period high-sticking infraction, sending him to the penalty box for four minutes. Jay Bouwmeester scored off a rebound on the ensuing power play and Calgary never relinquished that lead. Jarome Iginla put the exclamation mark on the victory for Calgary with a mini breakaway in the third, undressing Ray Emery after getting behind Duncan Keith. The Hawks got a first-period goal from Brent Seabrook, but the visitors didn’t manage a dangerous attack, opting for a more defensive style after getting beat for eight goals the night before in Edmonton. Olli Jokinen opened the game’s scoring for the Flames. The Hawks had a few chances in the third period, but nothing materialized and their seventh-straight road loss became reality.
What it means: It was a bit better of a defensive effort for sure, but at what cost? It slowed down the Hawks offense considerably, as the right balance continues to elude them. Marcus Kruger returned to the second-line center position while Brendan Morrison was dropped, but that line produced little in the way of dangerous scoring chances. The Hawks defense continues to confound. They are unable to clear pucks or men in the slot and for Keith to allow the great Iginla behind him was unacceptable. The Hawks finished the first portion of their road trip 0-2-1.
What’s next: The Hawks head back to Chicago for a couple of days before heading back out on the second leg of their nine-game road trip. Next up are games in Colorado (Tuesday), San Jose (Friday) and Phoenix (Saturday).
The Flames took a late lead heading into the intermission thanks to a power-play goal by Jay Bouwmeester off a rebound in the slot. Michael Frolik took a four minute high-sticking penalty to give the Flames the man-advantage chance. Bouwmeester scored with just 1:04 left in the period.
The Hawks didn’t have many good scoring chances in the middle 20 minutes and Miikka Kiprusoff stopped the few they had. Jamal Mayers had a good look late in the period, but Kiprusoff didn’t give up a rebound on the hard shot.
The teams exchanged goals in the first period with Brent Seabrook getting the Hawks’ tally after Olli Jokinen scored for the Flames.
CHICAGO -- When his Blackhawks team handed Joel Quenneville the game puck after they secured his 600th win, a 4-2 victory over the Calgary Flames on Sunday, he only had one response for them.
“It means I’m getting old,” he said.
Maybe so, but Quenneville hasn’t lost a beat as he became the second fastest coach -- behind another Hawks employee, Scotty Bowman -- to win 600 games.
“I’ve been with some good teams, and some great organizations, and some great players and coaches to be around,” Quenneville said after the game. “I’ve been fortunate in a lot of ways, and I’m in a great spot right here, very content, got a great team to work with. They’re [the wins] all meaningful, they all feel good.”
Quenneville became just the 10th coach to accomplish the feat and maybe it’s appropriate it came on a night when his defense stepped up. Quenneville played the position for more than a decade in the league, and his strength is dealing with blue-liners.
“He taught me a lot, especially with having an active stick and stick on puck,” Niklas Hjalmarsson said. “I listen to everything he says and I’ve learned a lot from him so far. It’s not for nothing he has six hundred wins. It’s a major accomplishment. We’re glad to have him in Chicago. We respect him a lot as a coach and a person.”
Hjalmarsson’s first goal of the season helped Quenneville to No. 600 while Steve Montador added a tally and the entire defense rallied around the loss of Brent Seabrook early in the night. All of it helped the Hawks to their fifth straight win and the magic number for their coach.
“I think he keeps things on an even keel,” Jonathan Toews said. “He shows emotion when it’s necessary, he cares. He holds everyone accountable, including himself. He feels guys out pretty well too. He treats us as adults, as professionals and lets us play our game. The respect is mutual there.”
“Every game is different,” Quenneville said. “You just have to deal with the situations and evaluate where your team is at and why you’re winning or why you lose. I’m very fortunate to be around top guys, good teams and good people.”
Most if not all fans would feel the same way -- very fortunate -- about having the coach that helped break a 49-year championship drought. But in true hockey coach mode Quenneville isn’t satisfied.
“I still say we’ve got to be improving in certain parts of our game,” he said. “I don’t think we should be satisfied with where we’re at.”
A coach is always coaching.
Here's a quick look at the Blackhawks' win on Sunday, the 600th of Joel Quenneville's career.
How it happened: For the second straight game the Hawks got secondary scoring, this time the contributions came from Steve Montador and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Both tallied even-strength goals while Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa added power-play scores. The Hawks played great defense as well, even after losing Brent Seabrook to a head injury. They gave up just 11 shots on net through the first 40 minutes when the game was decided and 24 for the night. Montador’s goal in the first period came after a great shift by the fourth line while Hjalmarsson scored his first of the season in the middle period after a nice set-up by Marian Hossa. Kane’s goal came after Jonathan Toews won a face-off in the offensive zone. For the second consecutive game Ray Emery lost a shutout bid with a third period tally as Olli Jokinen scored on a power play. It came after Bryan Bickell was called for instigating after a fight with Cory Sarich. Hossa put the icing on the cake with a goal from the point during a 5-on-3 power play in the third period.
What it means: The Hawks are rolling with their fifth consecutive win. Again they took control early and again it was the fourth line that set the tone. The loss of Seabrook, early in the game, had little impact on the outcome, but it taxed the rest of the defense who still came up big. The Hawks wanted some scoring to be spread out. Over the past two games they’ve gotten it. Seven different players scored goals in the two wins while Ray Emery isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. His sliding save on Curtis Glencross was one of several big stops. The Hawks improved to 21-8-4.
Seabrook down: Brent Seabrook was lost for the game after Rene Bourque hit him from behind late in the first period. The concern is of another head injury, which would be one of several Seabrook has endured over the last few seasons. His head hit the ice face-first and while he walked off on his own, he looked woozy. The Hawks called it an upper-body injury and said his night was done.
What’s next: The Hawks hit the road for a Tuesday affair in Pittsburgh. Pens star Sidney Crosby is on the injured list due to concussion symptoms but is eligible to return at anytime.
The Hawks extended a 1-0 first intermission lead with a second goal by a defenseman followed by a power play tally. Niklas Hjalmarsson tallied his first of the season after a nice setup by Marian Hossa while Marcus Kruger provided a screen. Later, Patrick Kane scored with the man-advantage after Jonathan Toews won a faceoff to Duncan Keith who gave it to Kane. Kane walked to the middle of the ice and scored his ninth of the year.
Brent Seabrook was declared out for the rest of the night after getting hit from behind by Rene Bourque of the Flames. Seabrook’s head hit the ice on the play and though he walked off on his own power, he went straight to the dressing room before the Hawks announced he would not return.