'Bulin Wall stands tall

Flames captain Jarome Iginla shakes hands with Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin following...

Flames captain Jarome Iginla shakes hands with Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin following Chicago's 4-1 win last night. (Sun Media/Darren Makowichuk)

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:25 AM ET

The Calgary Flames finally hit a wall, and their season is over.

Once again, it was the 'Bulin Wall.

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin continued his dominance over the Flames, making 43 saves last night in a 4-1 Game 6 victory at the Saddledome.

With that, the injury-riddled Flames are out of the NHL playoffs in the first round for the fourth straight season, this time by a count of 4-2.

"I wish I had an answer. Then, I wouldn't be standing right here," said Flames centre Olli Jokinen, when asked why the hosts couldn't solve Khabibulin.

"If we found a way to score, we would have won. We did everything we could. We put pucks on net. We had a lot of chances.

"He was their best player," Jokinen continued. "We've got to find a way to score.

" We had 40-plus shots and only one goal. That's really frustrating."

The last time the Hawks won a playoff series was back in 1996, when they swept the Flames out. They move on to face either the Vancouver Canucks or the San Jose Sharks, depending on the outcome of the Sharks series with the Anaheim Ducks.

The Sharks were losing late in last night's game against the Ducks, with the Ducks up 3-2 in the first-round series.

The Blackhawks got off to the perfect start in trying to become the only road team to win in this series.

Before the first period was 11 minutes old, the Blackhawks had a 2-0 lead on goals by Adam Burish and Patrick Kane.

Brian Campbell scored late in the second to give the Hawks a commanding 3-0 lead heading into the dressing room after 40 minutes.

By the time the home team got on the board -- on a roofed shot by Todd Bertuzzi early in the third -- it was much too late.

"We gave quite a push, but we didn't capitalize offensively," said Flames head coach Mike Keenan.

"That can happen in this league when a goaltender can make all the difference in the world.

"Goaltenders can steal a game, and that's exactly what happened here."

The already injury-ravaged Flames were without their leading minutes-eater in the playoffs last night. Defenceman Dion Phaneuf sat out with broken ribs stemming from a Game-5 hit courtesy of Blackhawks forward Troy Brouwer.

The Flames blueline corps had already played the entire series without shutdown defenceman Robyn Regehr (knee), plus Mark Giordano (shoulder) and Rhett Warrener (shoulder).

A multitude of other players were playing with various ailments, while the Hawks were virtually healthy.

"We're not going to use that as an excuse," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla. "We really had a ton of chances, and our powerplay could be better."

Dustin Byfuglien had assists on the first two goals and added an empty-net goal. Rookie-of-the-year finalist Kris Versteeg had assists on the first two goals, while Kane had a two-point game.

But the real story was Khabibulin.

The Flames finally solved the goalie that beat them in the 2004 Stanley Cup final with their 35th shot.

But Bertuzzi was trying to make up for terrible penalties in the first two periods.

He elbowed Brent Seabrook just a minute into the tilt and was flagged for too many men in the second period.

Both times, the Hawks capitalized on those chances.

In two powerplay opportunities early in the second, the Flames could hardly garner a scoring chance.

Their much maligned powerplay was a huge difference, and it's a bitter pill to swallow this off-season, which begins today.

"Every year is tough, and you have a chance," Iginla said. "This year is tough because it's the best team I've been part of since I've been here. The best potential.

"It was there for us. The Hawks are a young team that's resilient and played with a lot of flair. You can't win all of them, but this is the hardest one.

"I feel a big responsibility and a big part for not helping the group get it done."


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