One sad Dome blowout

The reaction of Flames head coach Brent Sutter, left, says it all. Last night's 7-1 loss to the...

The reaction of Flames head coach Brent Sutter, left, says it all. Last night's 7-1 loss to the Blackhawks was enough to give the bench boss one big headache. (Darren Makowichuk, Sun Media)

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

Waiting for the locker-room doors to open after the game, time stood still.

It must have seemed even longer for the Calgary Flames players as they were addressed by their coaching staff after a brutal 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks last night at the Saddledome.

"We've just got to play better. Compete harder. That's all it is," winger Eric Nystrom said of the lengthy gap between the final buzzer and the painful media interviews during which they tried to explain an effort that was inexplicable.

"It's nothing to do with Xs and Os. That was just a bad effort."

Embarrassing was the word thrown out by the Flames captain, and every one of his teammates would have to agree on that one.

"We collapsed," Iginla said, sparking a quick flashback to the 5-0 lead in Chicago earlier this year that turned into a 6-5 loss -- a defeat that, to this point, had been their most appalling of the season.

Despite a reasonable start to the rematch with one of the Western Conference's most dangerous teams, the Flames only managed about 22 minutes of decent hockey.

Troy Brouwer netted a powerplay marker to open the scoring midway through the first period, and Olli Jokinen snapped his slump to even things up 14 seconds into the middle frame.

Then Nigel Dawes made the first of many glaring mistakes to start the train wreck, taking a terrible reactionary penalty after Blackhawks defenceman Niklas Hjalmarson slammed into Flames winger Rene Bourque -- who left the game, returned for a brief shift in the third period, and then hit the locker-room early with an undisclosed injury.

Dawes' roughing infraction led to Kris Versteeg's first of two goals on the night as he tipped Brent Seabrook's point shot past Miikka Kiprusoff.

"In a 1-1 hockey game, you have to be a little more careful with that," said head coach Brent Sutter, who was remarkably calm post-game but was boiling at times on the bench.

"You like the fact you have teammates that stick up for each other, but there's no penalty on the play because it's a clean hit. You put your team down a man against a team that's got a good powerplay, and they capitalized on it."

Dustin Byfuglien got the best of Kiprusoff -- who was replaced by backup Curtis McElhinney to start the third period -- six minutes later from a bad angle on a two-on-one to make it 3-1.

"It just snowballed," said Sutter.

The Flames didn't even make an effort to run from the avalanche.

Andrew Ladd padded the lead by taking advantage of a brutal line change, and Patrick Kane and Versteeg piled on with powerplay goals before the second intermission.

Ben Eager even earned his first goal of the year in the third period.

"Our game wasn't strong enough. We just stopped competing, stopped moving -- almost like we were waiting for something to go the other way," said Iginla, whose Flames kick off a stretch of schedule that has them playing eight of their next nine games on the road.

"There wasn't a guy in here, every single one of us, that was nearly good enough.

"That was embarrassing. Especially home, in front of our fans."

The loss was Calgary's fourth in their last five games at the Saddledome.

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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