SUN Hockey Pool

Blackhawk downer

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:03 AM ET

CHICAGO -- The suits were ugly.

The loss was even uglier.

On the day the Calgary Flames opted for a contest to see who could bring out the ugliest ensemble from their past, they carried that trend onto the ice.

As much as Mr. Blackwell would have cringed at their wardrobe, the game was even uglier.

Instead of taking the opportunity against a bottom-feeding Chicago Blackhawks squad that went into the clash with only two wins in its previous 11 home games, the Flames sputtered and fell by the wayside 2-0 at the United Center.

"We had chances, created a couple of chances there in the first period but we didn't bear down," said forward Kristian Huselius.

"And that's what happens when you give a team a chance to hang around in a game."

Losers of two straight to fall to 29-16-5, the Flames were looking to redeem themselves from a disappointing defeat two nights earlier in Denver and pull away a bit further from the pack in the tight Northwest Division.

Given the opportunity to face an undermanned Blackhawks team starting unheralded rookie Adam Munro instead of Nikolai Khabibulin, the Flames couldn't get the job done.

Instead, in what was a snoozer through most of the tilt, they didn't find the mark with any of the 26 shots they sent on goal.

Most glaring was the zero-for-eight record on the powerplay, with five of those opportunities coming in the final frame.

"Give them credit, their penalty killing in this building is really, really good," said Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter.

"They're probably the most aggressive penalty killing team we've faced, so that means you'll have to get an ugly goal like they did.

"You're going to have to put it there and screen, tip, rebound, those types of things and some of our forwards, the guys on the powerplay, weren't willing to do that."

For part of that, Sutter cited fatigue.

"Our effort was good. I think one team was fresh and one team wasn't," he explained.

"We had the chances in the first period and didn't shoot -- take advantage of three great ones -- and it went from half a tank full to one-quarter full.

"And, by the end, nothing."

It is noteworthy his side played its third game in four days and fourth in six.

With the clock ticking down before the announced crowd of 10,486 at the cavernous Windy City rink, it appeared neither side would solve the opposing netminder.

However, on Chicago's seventh powerplay of the night, Martin Lapointe netted the game winner with a little more than six minutes left.

Miikka Kiprusoff stopped Mark Bell's long point shot but couldn't control the puck before Lapointe was able to knock the rebound home.

A mere 83 seconds later, and while Calgary was on the powerplay, Kyle Calder sealed the deal by taking advantage of Roman Hamrlik's giveaway and scoring on the ensuing breakaway.

From there, Munro did the rest for his first NHL shutout.

"It feels pretty good," said the 23-year-old who was playing in his 13th NHL game.

"I wanted a good start after last game (in which he was pulled) against Minnesota and the biggest thing was to get out of the first period scoreless or up by one.

"It just carried on from there."

Chicago, which has won two of three against the Northwest Division leading Flames, improved to 17-27-6.

The Flames have a chance for redemption quickly, with the Blackhawks on tap again Sunday afternoon.


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