February 07 2011 10:51PM
As a lot of us expected, it was a tight and hard fought hockey game Monday night at the 'Dome, and on this night, it was the Calgary Flames coming out on top with a 3-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. The term "it could have gone either way" really did apply on this night, but the Flames did more than enough to earn the two points in a physical, chippy, mean hockey game.
The Hawks played some strong hockey in the first five minutes or so, buzzing around the Flames net, although not converting with a ton of scoring chances. However, that turned a little as the period went on and by the midway point of the period, Calgary had tilted things back to their side of the ice. They'd score at the 14:33 mark of the first, thanks to a nice pass from Lance Bouma onto the stick of Mikael Backlund. The rookie center would deke to the backhand and beat Corey Crawford in net to give the Flames a 1-0 lead into the intermission.
Chicago would tie it about six minutes into the middle frame on a nice passing play finished off by Patrick Kane. After Jonathan Toews and Troy Brouwer would play catch behind the net, Toews would feed Kane beside the crease for his 15th of the season. The second would see things settle down a little bit, with a few chances at either end, but once again the Flames would come out ahead in the scoring chances count, this time 9-6. It would set up another tight and close third period.
It looked like Chicago was going to take their first lead early in the third, as they had the puck throughout most of the early stages. But, the Hawks were unable to convert on some chances, including a shot off the post, and you had the feeling that things were going to turn. And turn they did. At 8:37 on a fast break, Olli Jokinen would feed a nice pass to Curtis Glencross on the left wing; he'd rifle his 14th past Crawford from the left circle to give the Flames their second lead of the game. Chicago would keep buzzing, they'd come close a few times, and they'd play the score for the rest of the period, but the Flames did a pretty nice job of limiting them and by the end of the night, Rene Bourque had a shot at an empty net. He'd ice it with his 16th at 19:35 for Calgary's seventh win in eight games.
One Good Reason...
...why the Flames won? Because they did a good job of shutting down the Hawks in all situations. At even strength Calgary limited Chicago to just 11 chances, and they put on a nice performance once taking the lead in the third period. As for the penalty kill, they came to play, once again. Against the number one powerplay in the NHL, Calgary shut down Chicago on four powerplay opportunities and generated a few chances of their own. Overall, Calgary has allowed just five powerplay goals in their last 55 times shorthanded. Damn.
I know there were a few times when he made some...odd choices, but Olli Jokinen was really strong tonight, centering Calgary's best line. Jokinen chipped in with two points, including a helper on the winner, and his line with Glencross and David Moss saw a ton of tough matchups against the top Chicago units. They finished with their head above water as a line, and aside from a rough night in the faceoff circle, Jokinen was very strong. His first assist also served as Jokinen's 600th career point.
Sum It Up
An eight game point streak. Wins in seven of their last eight. Points in 13 of 14. You can look big picture or little picture, and you get the same result right now: the Flames are playing some damn good hockey. They're doing it by playing their best hockey of the season, by riding some bounces, and by riding some high shooting percentages. Who knows how long it lasts, but Colorado did this to a much more extreme degree for 3/4 of a season last year, so who says it can't continue for Calgary?
Note: Flames defenceman Adam Pardy left the game in the third period with an upper body injury and he didn't return.