Flames flyin' low in loss

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

Another opportunity to make hay against a cellar-dweller.

Another blown chance for the Calgary Flames.

Only a few days removed from their dud-effort loss to the Edmonton Oilers, the Flames were victimized by another bottom-feeder last night, falling 3-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks at the Saddledome.

"The position we're in now, we can't afford to throw away points," said Flames forward Alex Tanguay.

"The other team, it doesn't matter where they are in the standings. It doesn't matter if they're the Detroit Red Wings or L.A., we've got to get our own points and make sure we're not going to be depending on other teams at the end of the season."

Oh sure, the Flames can partially chalk up the defeat to the goaltending of Nikolai Khabibulin, whose season has been a disaster when he faces any other team, but it wasn't until the third period the play was as one-sided as expected.

At that point, the hosts were trailing before the sellout crowd of 19,289, as has been the trend of late.

"On a night like tonight, you are disappointed in the fact that we just can't seem to impress upon our team that there is a sense of urgency needed to come out and start games," said Flames coach Mike Keenan.

The Flames did make a push, but it proved to be too late against a Chicago team that rolled into town on a five-game losing skid.

Maybe the Flames thought the game would be as one-sided as the betting line, because they didn't appear to have the motivation to win through the first two periods.

Think you're struggling to figure out the cause of the slow starts? Trying being in Keenan's shoes.

"Look at the standings," he said when asked what could provide extra urgency.

"Enough said. I'm not being flippant or smart. It's pretty self-explanatory. We're in eighth place, one point in the playoffs and we've played below .500 since we got back from the break.

"I don't know what more motivation you need."

Apparently, that wasn't enough through the first two periods, after which Calgary trailed thanks to Chicago goals by Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp that sandwiched Adrian Aucoin's marker.

The Flames pushed frantically in the third period, but Khabibulin shut the door and Yanic Perrault's empty-netter sealed the deal.

Calgary's record falls to 27-20-8, while the Blackhawks improve to 24-25-5.

Calgary's homestand ends tomorrow when the Oilers come calling for a 5 p.m. start.


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