February 3, 2012
Flames shoot down 'Hawks
By RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
CALGARY - No big-point nights.
Nobody expected it for the Calgary Flames, but that wasn’t necessary.
Having somebody on the Flames become the talk of the hockey world with an eight-, nine- or 10-point night was hardly the focus before the puck dropped on their clash with the Chicago Blackhawks.
“I want our team to get two points,” said Flames head coach Brent Sutter after the morning skate. “They can all get eight points and I’d be thrilled, but our team needs two points.”
Sutter received his wish with a right-out-of-the-gameplan 3-1 victory Friday night to snap a two-game losing skid.
The Flames (24-22-6) pulled into a three-way tie for ninth place in the NHL's Western Conference, three points back of the Minnesota Wild, which currently holds the No.-8 spot.
The Blackhawks (29-17-7), who sat first in the NHL on Jan. 20, have lost five straight.
Moreover, they went winless through Alberta for the second time this season, and been outscored 25-9 over those four losses to the Flames and the Edmonton Oilers.
Calgary’s struggling offensive attack received a shot in the arm from one of the members of the ice-cold club when Olli Jokinen opened the scoring in the 13th minute of action by ripping a rocket of a shot past 'Hawks goalie Ray Emery.
The puck went in and out of the net so fast and made such a loud clang, the officials waived it off thinking it had drilled the crossbar, but Jokinen was able to stop play with his protestations it was indeed a goal.
Video review proved Jokinen’s case, and his goal-scoring drought was snapped at 15 games.
However, Chicago was rewarded for controlling the opening frame when Brent Seabrook tied the clash in the final minute of the first period.
Seabrook was able to sneak in unnoticed from his point position and made no mistake after taking a cross-ice pass from Patrick Kane.
To the Flames credit, they not only recovered from that disappointing late goal but controlled the second period, firing 16 shots on goal.
Their persistence of the hosts finally paid off when Jay Bouwmeester converted on the powerplay with 64 seconds remaining in the frame.
Emery stopped Mikael Backlund’s shot with Blair Jones providing the screen, but Bouwmeester, who was parked in the low slot, was on the spot for the rebound tally, his third goal in nine games.
Jarome Iginla made it a two-goal edge with less than eight minutes remaining in regulation, finishing off a breakaway after a perfect deke on Emery.
The finish was beautiful, but just as impressive was Alex Tanguay’s pass — from the slot in the Flames zone almost all the way to the far blueline where Iginla was awaiting.
From there, it was up to Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff to hold the fort on a night he became the franchise leader with his 527th game for the Flames, which he did in his trademark stellar fashion.
Kiprusoff stopped 26 shots to collect the 299th victory of his career, including a clutch point-black save on Bryan Bickell early in the third period.
Emery made 29 saves for the Blackhawks.
The Flames next embark on a three-game road trip into the Pacific Division, starting with a clash against the Anaheim Ducks Monday.
On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak