Nation World HQ
December 18 2011 08:08PM
It'll be another year without a win in Chicago, as Calgary's United Center woes stretch to four seasons thanks to a 4-2 loss at the hands of the Blackhawks on Sunday night. It serves as a fourth straight loss for the Flames in a game that was never really close. Chicago controlled things from the very start, and even with a couple third period goals, a fifth straight Blackhawks win was never in doubt.
It was exactly the type of start the home side wanted, as Chicago controlled the play right from the very get go, save a giveaway that lead to a Lee Stempniak chance early. Ray Emery was good on the save and the Hawks would open the scoring at 9:23 of the first period, as the Flames got a little mixed up in their own end. Jamal Mayers would eventually find a wide open Steve Montador at the right point who would hammer home his fifth of the season. Scoring chances finished 6-2 Chicago after one period. Also notable in the first, Rene Bourque delivered a check from behind to Brent Seabrook, drawing a five minute major and a game misconduct. Seabrook didn't return.
The second period saw Chicago play with the puck for a good amount of the time, and they'd score a couple goals in the middle frame as well. Just over five minutes in, Niklas Hjalmarsson scored another Hawks goal off the point, getting his first of the season as it just squirted through Mikka Kiprusoff at 5:15. On a Chris Butler tripping call later in the second, Patrick Kane would score a powerplay marker from the slot at 14:55 good for his ninth and a 3-0 Chicago lead after 40.
The third was a formality for the Blackhawks, and they played as such, sitting back and not letting much behind them. They'd take a few penalties and those would burn them for a few goals, with Olli Jokinen scoring again at 2:35 on the powerplay. His 11th came on a Bryan Bickell instigator call after he dropped the gloves with Cory Sarich following a heavy hit early in the period. But T.J. Brodie's highsticking call coupled with Jarome Iginla's unsportsmanlike penalty, the Blackhawks had an extended two man advantage and cashed in around the midway mark. Marian Hossa's powerplay slap shot from the right point restored the three goal lead at 11:17 before Curtis Glencross scored a powerplay goal at 16:25 getting us to our final score.
One Good Reason...
...why the Flames lost? Because they barely had the puck for the balance of this game. The first 40 minutes wasn't even a contest, as Chicago seemed to be toying with Calgary, controlling the puck and controlling the play and allowing just five scoring chances period. The Hawks are a very strong hockey team, but as we said in FGD, the Flames couldn't help em along, and some listless hockey did just that. Their third period means very little to me.
Gotta hand it to Cory Sarich, who took it upon himself to make sure Calgary was exerting himself physically. He had a second strong night and in his two games since returning to the lineup, Sarich hasn't done anything to play himself out of the lineup. That said, the team seems to be going with a rotation in that spot, so we'll see how that goes. For this night, I thought Sarich was pretty decent.
Sum It Up
I don't know how many would be surprised to see the Flames lose to Chicago, because that's what they do at the United Center. It was also a fourth game in six nights for the Flames, so I'm sure there was some fatigue built in as well. Neither can be excuses though, as Calgary needed to be engaged and playing their game to have a shot in this one. The score was close, but this was all Blackhawks from start to finish. The opponents don't get any easier from here on out, with Minnesota, Detroit, and Vancouver serving as the next three tests.