SUN Hockey Pool

'Hawks pick apart Flames

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks are savage.

It's not just that they're young, quick and skilled.

They also have fight.

First to the puck on most occasions and hungrily attacking to take it away when the opposition has control, the Blackhawks are fun to watch.

That is, unless, you're a fan of the Calgary Flames.

For example, you paid for a pay-per-view broadcast to see the Flames get blown out 6-1 in their previous appearance at the United Center.

Last night's broadcast was free, but that was of little consolation as the Flames floundered during a 5-2 loss in the Windy City, snapping a five-game winning streak.

It was bound to happen, and the Blackhawks would have been a good bet to end the Flames' streak after beating them twice already this season.

They must be happy they're done in Chicago unless a playoff series pits them against each other.

"(We're) not," said winger Michael Cammalleri, one of many frustrated Flames on the night.

"It's the competitive spirit in you -- I wish we were playing here tomorrow.

"It's a little frustrating knowing that we thought we had something to prove to them tonight and we weren't able to do it."

They'll get one more crack at it at the Saddledome next month but will have to be at their best.

"We give the 'Hawks credit. They're a good team, they're fast and they can make things happen quickly. But both games in here, we haven't played very well," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who pointed to Kris Versteeg's shorthanded goal in a nightmare finish to the second period as last night's backbreaker.

"Right before that, it was anybody's game."

The feisty and fresh 'Hawks got the jump on the Flames in the first period, jumping out to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Martin Havlat, which was set up nicely by defenceman Duncan Keith and former Calgary Hitmen forward Andrew Ladd.

Early in the second, Flames winger Todd Bertuzzi parked himself in front of goalie Nikolai Khabibulin's crease and deflected Dion Phaneuf's blast for his 11th of the season.

In a span of less than six minutes, the Blackhawks put the game out of reach.

Ladd started the storm with his eighth of the year on a delayed penalty when he zipped the puck past Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff from the high slot.

Then Versteeg gutted the Flames a minute-and-a-half later when Phaneuf gave up the puck on the blueline and allowed the shifty Lethbridge product in alone on Kiprusoff.

The hole between the goaltender's pads and the ice couldn't have been higher than a flattened puck, but Versteeg slipped it through for what proved to be the game-winner.

Dustin Byfuglien's powerplay goal with 1.1 seconds left in the frame essentially sealed it, although the Flames pushed hard in the third period and got a man-advantage marker from Daymond Langkow to give the sellout crowd some nerves.

An empty-netter from 'Hawks sniper Patrick Sharp at 18:19 put them at ease again.

"I thought in the third, we came out and played well, desperate, and had a lot of chances," said Iginla, whose team came back from behind to win a night before in Nashville.

"Khabibulin, he shut the door in the third. I thought if we make it (a one-goal game) there, we're coming all the way back."

Nobody, however, will mistake the Blackhawks for the Predators.

"You don't want to give them a 4-1 lead."


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