By Jon Fromi
First Period-Rookie net minder Reto Berra was greeted by lots of vulcanized rubber, to the tune of 18 shots by the Blackhawks in the opening 20 minutes. The first shot on goal came from the stick of Calgary’s Brian McGrattan just over two minutes in. McGrattan then gave the Hawks a power play when he tripped Niklas Hjalmarsson. Chicago got a few shots on net that Reto Berra left out in front, but the Flames survived the two minutes.
Crawford saw his share of action in the first ten minutes. In the tenth minute, Matt Stajan took a feed from Curtis Glencross and snapped a shot at the net but was denied by the Chicago goalie. A minute later he gloved an attempt by Jiri Hudler.
Berra stopped a quick shot by Brandon Pirri at the end of a pretty effective shift for Pirri’s line in the 13th minute. Jonathan Toews got into open ice on the next shift and sent one to the net from the right side but Berra knocked it aside. A nice bit of passing and an Andrew Shaw attempt got another loose puck in front of Berra but Chicago couldn’t get a stick on it.
Late in the period, Calgary got a 3-on-2 that yielded a shot by Dennis Wideman. Crawford absorbed the attempt with his body. Berra fell on a Duncan Keith shot at the buzzer and the period ended with no score.
Second Period-Pirri got a great look at the net in the first minute but was wide with the attempt. Morin sent a couple pucks on Berra in the third minute as the Hawks kept the pressure on in the Calgary zone. Hossa sent a laser to the net off a faceoff win.
Calgary’s first real scoring chance came at the 4:06 mark when T.J. Galiardi got behind the Hawks and was awarded a penalty shot when Hossa attempted to backcheck. The attempt was wide and Chicago went back on the attack.
The dam finally broke in the seventh minute when Kane skated along the blue line before swooping into the left circle and beating Berra stickside. At the 6:25 mark, Chicago had a 1-0 lead.
Less than a minute later, the Flames torched Crawford to tie the contest. The equalizer started from the blue line with Wideman slinging the puck toward the net. Mike Cammalleri skated in from the right corner and got his stick on the high shot, redirecting it past Crawford 7:15 into the middle frame.
The two teams traded scoring chances, with David Jones and Toews each getting pucks on net. Wideman got off another big shot in the 16th minute that seemed to change direction, but Crawford handled the attempt. Hossa nearly had a breakaway up the middle of the ice but couldn’t get control of the puck for a shot and T.J. Brodie was able to break up the attempt.
Crawford handled a lot of traffic in front in the 18th minute. Kane and Toews hooked up late in the period, leading to the captain finding himself at the right post with the puck. A shot never materialized and the score remained knotted at a goal apiece after 40 minutes.
Third Period-Chicago continued to hold the puck in the Flames zone, though the defense had trouble getting the puck on net in the early minutes. Marcus Kruger headed to the net when a puck got past Kris Russell but the shot was blocked.
Calgary converted on its first scoring chance 2:22 into the third period when Glencross took a stretch pass from Joe Colborne and Kris skated to the left circle. The shot beat Crawford high, caromed off the right post and into the net to put the Flames up 2-1.
Chicago resumed the pressure on Berra, though the rookie continued to hold the Hawks in check. Crawford made several key stops to keep his team in the contest while the Flames started clearing Chicago’s dump-ins with some consistency.
With 6:20 to go, Toews was taken down by Chris Butler and the Hawks had two minutes of the man advantage. Eighteen seconds in, Stajan covered the puck and Chicago had a prime 5-on-3 opportunity.
Sharp was denied early at the left post and later Berra gloved a high Kane attempt. As the Flames were on the verge of getting a man back, Kane found Hossa for the short side slapshot. At the 15:41 mark, Chicago had tied the score 2-2.
Neither team could generate much in the way of shots in the last five minutes, setting up extra time to decide the third point.
Overtime-The end came in the second minute when Glencross threw the puck out to Russell at the blue line. Russell’s shot appeared to glance off of Shaw’s leg and found twine over Crawford.
Three Stars-Russell (Third), Kane (Second), Berra (First)
-A big tip of the cap to Berra, who came in to his first NHL game and made 42 saves on the night. That said, there were a lot of rebounds to be had in regulation and Chicago could not capitalize.
-Pat Foley couldn’t seem to believe that Calgary could fathom sending Berra out to slaughter against the Hawks in his first game. Does Pat realize that Miikka Kiprusoff retired and Joey MacDonald was waived Saturday? It isn’t like Karri Ramo is a reason to keep a rookie on the bench.
-Brandon Bollig has as many fights clean-shaven (zero) as he does with a beard this season (zero). Is it just me, or does he resemble a clean-shaven Freddie Mercury? I think it speaks of Joel Quenneville’s confidence in his fourth-liners to see Bollig on the ice in the final minute of regulation.
-That confidence did not extend to Jeremy Morin, who skated just 7:21 and didn’t see the ice after the middle part of the third period.
-The Hawks lost some of their starch in the latter stages of the end of a back-to-back set. I think the effort was there, but the Flames certainly outworked Chicago late.
-Crawford played a strong game for the second night in a row, making 27 saves on 30 shots. I’m not sure there was much he could have done differently on Cammalleri’s redirect or the deflected game-winner.
-Winning nine of his 13 draws on the night was Marcus Kruger, who also was impressive on Saturday in Winnipeg. As a team, Chicago was 45-29 at the dot. With that kind of advantage on faceoffs, Chicago dominating possession for the most part and having outshot Calgary 44-30, it’s hard to believe this game was even close. One more cap tip to Berra.
Quenneville sent Kane out with Bickell and Shaw quite a bit.