By Jon Fromi
Adam Clendening showed his power play prowess to his new Chicago Blackhawks team mates Thursday night. The rookie defenseman struck twine in his NHL debut to help Chicago knock off the Calgary Flames 4-3 in the Saddledome. Patrick Kane scored the game-winner and set up another Hawks goal as Chicago picked up two points in the first game of a six-game road trip.
First Period-T.J. Brodie held Brandon Saad’s stick two minutes into the contest to provide an early chance to jump out to a lead. Thanks to the new kid, they did.
Adam Clendening took a return pass from Marian Hossa and blasted a one-timer from the point. The shot beat Jonas Hiller thanks in part to a screen by Kris Versteeg, settling into the net right at the four-minute mark to give Clendening his first NHL goal and the Hawks a 1-0 lead.
Clendening breaking his maiden provided a charge to the Chicago offense. The Hawks spent most of the first ten minutes buzzing around the Calgary zone. In the eighth minute, the fourth line got in on the act. The scoring play was set up after recent call-up Joakim Nordstrom caused a turnover near the Flames blue line.
Daniel Carcillo came away with the loose puck, skated to the left dot and snapped off a winner that beat Hiller and kissed cord just inside the far post. With 7:17 gone in the opening frame, Chicago led 2-0.
Late in the 12th minute, Marcus Kruger was called for interference to give the Flames their first power play. The Hawks lead was halved late in the two minutes after Duncan Keith failed to clear the zone.
Mark Giordano took possession in neutral territory and re-entered the Hawks zone before sending the puck across the ice to Josh Joorish. Joorish’s shot was stopped by Crawford’s pads but rebounded right to Paul Byron. Byron deposited the rebound into wide open spaces to cut the Hawks advantage to a single goal.
Niklas Hjalmarsson tripped Sean Monahan on the play, earning him a trip to the box. Less than a minute later, Dennis Wideman tied the game with a slap shot from the point. After dominating for most of the first 15 minutes, the Hawks found themselves in a 2-2 affair.
Calgary had a scoring chance late in the period after Hjalmarsson took a puck to the chin. Jonathan Toews committed a hooking penalty while attempting to prevent Curtis Glencross from getting a shot on goal. Chicago ended the period down a man but still even with the Flames.
Second Period-The Hawks still had 1:37 of penalty time to kill to start the middle stanza. Chicago turned away the Flames but still saw plenty of action in its own zone in the first five or six minutes.
The Blackhawks broke the tie 10:52 into the period. Patrick Kane took a pass from Brad Richards coming into the Calgary zone. Kane set up Versteeg at the right circle. The shot was blocked by Hiller but Kane got the puck back along the left half boards. Brent Seabrook saw his chance and skated into the slot. Kane sent a pass to the big defenseman, who banged home the shot to put the Hawks up 3-2.
Calgary responded less than two minutes later. Glencross got to the front of the Hawks net, drawing Duncan Keith and Richards to hime. This left Monahan open on the right side with a lot of net to shoot at. Crawford could shut the door soon enough and the game was knotted at three 12:33 into the period.
Michael Rozsival was sent to the box for slashing at the 13:11 mark, though Chicago would kill that penalty. Late in the period, Johnny Oduya was penalized for delay of game but a Jiri Hudler tripping call resulted in the two teams finishing the period with four men on the ice. Heading to the locker room, the score was 3-3 and the outcome very much in the air.
Third Period-The game-winning goal came in the ninth minute. Hiller corralled a Richards dump-in attempt off the end boards. The Calgary goalie sent the puck off the boards behind his net but it never connected with its intended target.
Kane gathered in the errant pass, maneuvered around Sven Baertschi and got a shot off in front of Ladislav Smid. Beating Hiller to the left post, the puck snuck into the basket for a 4-3 Hawks lead at the 9:12 mark.
Chicago held off the Flames in the final ten minutes of play, including killing a Hjalmarsson hooking penalty on Johnny Gaudreau with 3:22 left. The Flames managed just four shots on goal following Kane’s game-winner.
Three Stars-Monahan (third), Byron (second), Kane (first)
-If it’s an eight o’clock start and a weeknight, odds are I’m dozing off for at least part of the game in the recliner. The Hawks managing just 22 shots on goal didn’t help me here.
-Clendening made his NHL debut playing on the left side despite being a right-handed shot and seldom playing on his opposite side in Rockford. He logged 10:41 in his first game. Both Clendening and his partner, Michael Rozsvial, were plus-two on the night.
-An uncharacteristic heavy night of penalties made this game closer than it needed to be. Keith looked to have a chance to ice the puck late in Calgary’s first power play but attempted to make a pass to clear the zone. Didn’t work.
-zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….what? Oh…um…nice way to start the big road trip. On to Edmonton for Late Night With Pat and Eddie Saturday Night.