The Calgary Flames will go another season without winning in Chicago, falling 6-4 at the hands of the Blackhawks on Wednesday night at the United Center. A torrid third period comeback wasn’t enough for the visitors on this night, and yet I wonder how they use an impressive, albeit chasing, third period going forward. Nonetheless, Calgary loses to a team that was better than them for most of the hockey game, and a team they’re fighting with in the Western Conference playoff race.
This game had a real tight, "playoff type" atmosphere to it at the beginning, with a lot of physicality and a lot of tight checking action. A gorgeous Chicago passing play would get the scoring going at 6:46 with the NHL’s hottest player finishing it off; Jonathan Toews would put home his 24th of the season to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead. However, a Calgary powerplay would draw the Flames even thanks to a strong move by Jarome Iginla at the offensive blueline. He’d beat Duncan Keith wide and feed Alex Tanguay in the high slot who would rifle home his 18th of the year for another powerplay goal. But a late mistake by Rene Bourque gave Chicago a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, as Rene Bourque would cough the puck up deep in his own end, leaving Jake Dowell all alone to feed a hard charging Michael Frolik. His ninth of the season gave the Hawks a 2-1 lead after 20.
It was allllll Chicago in the second, with Brian Campbell scoring on the powerplay at 15:11, firing one home from the point to make it 3-1. It was Toews once again putting the Hawks up by three, as 1:22 later, he’d break in and cut to the slot, firing his second of the night home. After two periods, Chicago had what seemed to be an insurmountable lead of three goals, and they looked like they might want to add to it.
One thing was accurate in the third period…the flood gates opened. But not in the blowout variety. With Henrik Karlsson in net to start the third, you could tell the Flames were ready to throw all their guns into a third period chase, and just 84 seconds in, they’d get the early goal they needed. On a goal mouth scramble in front, Rene Bourque would hammer home his 20th from the right side of the crease, and maybe, just maybe the Flames had some life. But it seemed like the Hawks woke up from there, and decided to focus all their attention on a calm remainder of the game…until 8:44. With Calgary in the offensive end, Tanguay would feed Iginla in the slot, and thanks to a vintage Iggy one-timer, the Flames were within one. But it was just 2:05 later that an unfortunate play in the Flames end would result in a Chicago goal…Dave Bolland would score from the right circle to give the Hawks a little more breathing room. Once again, it was the Flames getting right back in it, with Iginla feeding Rene Bourque at 16:04 to set up an interesting final push. That push resulted in a few chances, but a Marian Hossa empty netter with 39 seconds to go was all she wrote in a 6-4 Chicago win.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames lost? Very simple. They weren’t good enough in the opening 40 minutes, playing far too soft at all ends of the ice, and far too loose in their own zone. Calgary deserves a tip of the hat for their impressive third period push, but not much else, because before that they weren’t a great hockey team. Calgary has put together some notable third period comebacks in recent memory, but it’s not always going to happen…on this night, it didn’t.
Jarome Iginla drove the comeback on this night, and it was good to see the captain come to life. I know he had three points against the Blues last night, but in reality, the top line wasn’t overly great in St. Louis. Iginla looked strong and like an absolute handful as the third period progressed, and that’s what he still has the ability to do.
Sum It Up
Moral victories are nice, and Calgary’s third period could be considered as such. But in reality, they lost a hockey game in regulation to a team that still has games in hand on them, and now leapfrogs them in the Western Conference standings. Calgary hasn’t been overly great over the last five games, and yet they’ve still accrued results. They’ve got a hard charging Blue Jackets team on tap Friday night.