Curtis Glencross – photo credit: Yahoo! Sports
By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks were coming off a four-game win streak and looking to keep rolling atop the NHL. A spotty defensive effort in Calgary Friday night, coupled with two goals by the Flames in the first two minutes of the second period, led to a 5-2 defeat.
In the first period, the pace was to Chicago’s liking. Jonathan Toews took a pass from Marian Hossa in the fifth minute that Miikka Kiprusoff stopped with his pad. Toews hacked the puck into the goal, but it was waved off when the referee ruled the play whistled dead before the puck crossed the line.
The Flames drew first blood just over a minute later. Lee Stempniak came up with a loose puck and went the distance into the Chicago zone. Coming up the right side, Stempniak badly beat Duncan Keith to the inside and slapped it high to Corey Crawford’s stick side, giving Calgary a 1-0 lead.
The Blackhawks returned fire on the following shift. Nick Leddy got it started with a pass across the ice to Toews, and the captain brought the puck across the blue line and powered toward the net. Viktor Stalberg crashed the net, got inside position on Jay Bouwmeester with a nice move, and tapped in the centering pass to tie the contest.
Chicago had two prime chances to score in the remainder of the period, the first coming on a shorthanded attempt by Hossa that just missed the mark with 11:07 left. The shot was set up by Toews, who chipped the puck out of the defensive zone and won the resulting race to gain possession.
Patrick Kane swiped the puck in the fourteenth minute and led a 2-on-1 down the ice, but Kiprusoff made the stop. Alex Tanguay shot through a hole between Steve Montador and Duncan Keith to get a chance at Crawford, but the ‘Hawks goalie was up to the task and the teams went to intermission tied at a goal apiece.
Calgary set the Blackhawks back on their heels with a pair of goals in the opening minute of the second period. After Rene Bourque wristed a Curtis Glencross pass off Crawford’s glove and into the net forty seconds into the period, Nick Leddy brought the puck around the net and looked to pass to Dave Bolland. Instead, the puck glanced off of Roman Horak’s skate and in front of the net just out of Niklas Hjalmarsson’s reach. Paul Byron backhanded the gift past Crawford and the Flames were suddenly up 3-1 just 57 seconds after the first intermission.
Kiprusoff kept several excellent chances out of his net, but with 14:57 to play in the second, while on a 4-on-3 power play, Toews fought to bring the puck into the Calgary zone. He got the puck to Keith, who found Hossa for the one-timer over Kiprusoff’s glove.
Six minutes later, the Flames made it a two-goal advantage. Bouwmeester, whose shooting lane was taken away by a sliding Daniel Carcillo, found Glencross moving away from the crease. Glencross connected on a tough angle and made it 4-2 Calgary.
Chicago would send eleven shots Kiprusoff’s way in the final twenty minutes to no avail. The Flames put the game away with 13:14 left when Hossa’s errant pass in his own zone was collected by Olli Jokinen and sent to Glencross. He whiffed on his first attempt at the goal, but the puck remained within reach and he flipped in the final goal of the evening over Crawford.
-Kiprusoff stopped 30 of 32 shots, including a lot of prime scoring chances.
-It wasn’t the best defensive effort of the season, to be sure. Ultimately, a lot of poor decisions by Chicago in their own zone doomed the ‘Hawks Friday. This was especially true in front of the net.
-Big letdown after a big win in Vancouver on a lot of fronts. I understand that the D has been playing without Brent Seabrook. In the end, it just means it’s time to start another win streak Saturday night.
-Ben Smith’s debut on the third line was of the ho-hum variety, but neither of the bottom lines made a lot of noise. Bryan Bickell was pretty invisible again. Dave Bolland was on the ice for 11:54. Andrew Brunette came up short on numerous attempts from the Flames doorstep.
-Rostislav Olesz made his debut for the Rockford Ice Hogs last night down in Charlotte. He wasted little time making a difference in a 3-2 shootout win, scoring a goal. Staring the game with Brandon Pirri and Andrew Shaw, Olesz nearly had a second goal in the middle period.
He did set up a nice scoring opportunity for Pirri that led to Shaw putting a rebound in the net. He also netted a goal in the shootout along with Brian Connelly and Brett McLean. Olesz was also the first star of the game. So much for the theory that Olesz would report to the Ice Hogs and coast. If only Smith’s debut had gone as well.
-Carcillo did some of the little things that win over fans. In addition to sliding into a shooting lane, Carcillo shielded an open net with his body to try and prevent a goal late in the second. Lucky for him Tanguay whiffed. Still, how can you not respect the sacrifice?
-Patrick Sharp missed some time in the third period with what looked to be a problem with his skate. Keith missed a lot of the third as well. His skates were just fine. He was also a minus-four.
-If you told me that there would be a game where John Scott would have more time on ice than Bolland, Brunette, Bickell, Smith, and Jamal Mayers, I would have laughed. Look it up. It happened Friday. Over twelve minutes of time for Scott. He was one of only six ‘Hawks who did not post a negative rating for the contest.
-Looks like Ray Emery could get the nod in net Saturday night in Edmonton. Seabrook will be out again. Will Joel Quenneville go with some fresh legs in Sean O’Donnell. We may see Michael Frolik back in the lineup.