Flames' grit gets it done

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

CHICAGO -- This town has a sordid history of rapid-fire action thanks to machine gun-toting mobsters.

But three goals in the opening 78 seconds of a hockey game?

Now that's a shootout!

In addition to all the flying rubber bullets, the mayhem was ratcheted up when two Calgary Flames defencemen -- Roman Hamrlik and Robyn Regehr -- both went down for extensive patchwork.

Indeed, this was no ordinary 5-3 win.

Only 40 seconds after the puck dropped, barely time for the 15,748 fans at the United Center to take their seats, Darren McCarty put Calgary ahead with a bank shot off goalie Adam Munro from behind the net.

Sounds like the perfect turn of events for a Calgary squad looking to snap a two-game losing skid.

However, Radim Vrbata tied the game at the 69-second mark and Rene Bourque tallied nine seconds later.

"It was maybe a good game for us because it was something where we had to overcome a little adversity, going down early in the first and in the second having guys patched up," Flames blueliner Rhett Warrener said.

"It was a game we needed to win and we were able to find a way. It was nice to see."

'Nice' being one way to describe the Flames' revenge on the Blackhawks after dropping the first half of their two-game set in the Windy City three nights earlier.

Wacky would be another. Unique and bizarre would work, too.

Given the chance to make amends for a low-scoring snorefest in Thursday's 2-0 Chicago victory, the Flames and 'Hawks came through almost immediately.

And if the Flames weren't in a deep enough hole already, Warrener notched an own-goal -- he banged home the rebound while attempting to clear the puck after Miikka Kiprusoff stopped Mark Bell's point shot -- to give Chicago a 3-1 lead 15 minutes into the game.

From that moment, though, the tide turned. Suddenly, the Flames regrouped and became the dominant team you'd expect from a side nearly 30 points ahead in the standings.

Assistant coach Jim Playfair attributed the comeback to playing with a sense of urgency.

"We talked about it for a day-and-a-half, two days, that we have to be a hard-working team, play to our identity and have urgency on every shift," Playfair said.

"I don't know if there was one particular situation in the game that allowed us to build the momentum. But not turning over pucks in the neutral zone and establishing our forecheck was important."

As was Roman Hamrlik's tally late in the wild opening frame, the first of four unanswered Flames goals.

"That was big," said winger Chuck Kobasew. "At that point in the game, we weren't shooting pucks and it just shows what can happen. He came across the line, shot it and the goalie was screened.

"That was a big goal for us going into the second period."

The rest of the way was pretty much all Calgary. Steve Reinprecht, Dion Phaneuf and Kobasew all netted powerplay goals over the final 40 minutes, while the Blackhawks could only muster nine more shots on goal.


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