Raanta leads Hawks to victory in first NHL start

By Michael Calvert

In Wednesday night’s game against the rather lowly Calgary Flames, Coach Q decided to put Michal Handzus back into the 2nd center spot and move Brandon Pirri down to the 3rd. The move didn’t seem to work.  Aside from Pirri and Handzus switching the lines, the Hawks looked pretty similar to the norm.  One exception to that norm was that Antti Raanta made his first NHL start in net.  I’d say by the eye test Raanta looked pretty good. The Finnish goalie saved 20 of 22 Flames shots in leading the Blackhawks to their 18th win of the season.

The Flames took a 1-0 lead into the third and it looked like they’d walk out with pretty much a yawner win.  The situation for the Hawks looked real grim when Sean Monahan scored his 9th only 2 minutes into the 3rd period.  As it were, Monahan’s shot was only one of two for Calgary the whole 3rd period.

At 9:42, Patrick Kane scored his 14th of the season and cut the lead in half.  Something of a habit for the Hawks, they score again 46 seconds later as the other Patrick lit the lamp. Patrick Sharp beat Flames goalie Reto Berra on a wrist shot with 9:22 left in regulation time. Suddenly what looked like an easy boring Calgary win looked very much in jeopardy for the home team.

Patrick Kane, who remains on fire, scored a backhander top shelf with 18 seconds left to give the Hawks another win.  This was his 15th goal of the season good for 3rd in the league.

Notes:

I skipped through the first 2 periods of the game and if you were as lucky, maybe you did too.

Raanta looked pretty good, it is amusing to see the difference of stature in net vs his Flame counterpart.

Niklas Hjalmarsson had 2 assists tonight, putting him at 10 for the season.  For the past two seasons he’s really looked like the d-man Scotty Bowman claimed he would be.

Patrick Kane is pretty awesome.

Damn it feels good to be a Hawks fan.

M

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