Tonight was the third and final meeting versus the Blackhawks this season for the Calgary Flames. The Flames won the first in Chicago in a shootout that saw one goal scored in seven rounds by Kris Versteeg giving the Flames a 3-2 victory. Chicago took the second game by a score of 5-1, although it was tied until 7:44 of the third period, so the score was not indicative of the game. This was the last of a two game home stand for Calgary before their longest road trip of the season starts on Sunday. The Blackhawks were playing their 2nd game of a 7 game road trip labelled as their annual circus trip.
Corey Crawford started for the Hawks, and Chad Johnson made his third straight start for Calgary, who were looking for their second three game winning streak of the season. Chicago was 9-0-5 in their last 14 vs Calgary.
The Blackhawks opened the scoring on a breakaway when Artem Anisimov broke up a centering pass, cleared the puck out of the zone right onto the tape of Ryan Hartman, and faster than you can say “C’mon Dennis Wideman! ” the puck was in the back of the Flames net.
The Flames had a chance to redeem themselves a few minutes later on the power play, but not surprisingly for Flames fans, they could not capitalize, even against the league’s worst PK team.
The period ended with the Flames on the power play again. It looked more dangerous than the first with numerous point shots, however, Calgary could not get a stick on any of the rebounds.
The shots finished 9-11 in favor of Calgary after one period.
The second began with 30 seconds left on Kreuger’s penalty, but again the Flames could not take advantage of it.
The best chance early in the second in fact went to Patrick Kane who looked to have a gimmie with the puck sitting at the top of the crease. He chipped it towards a wide open cage, but as he went to take a second whack at it to finish it off he accidentally stopped the puck from crossing the line. Until then I had never seen a player stop his own goal-bound shot.
More bad luck for Patrick Kane followed when he lost control of the puck in the corner of the Flames’ end of the ice. TJ Brodie jumped on it and quickly skated it the other way. The play developed into a two-on-one which was initially flubbed by Troy Brouwer, but Monohan centered the loose puck back to the front of the net where Sam Bennett pitchforked it in at 3:33. It was Bennett’s first in his last 10 games.
The same line scored at 7:03 of the second off a great passing play starting with Sam Bennett in his own end, and Sean Monohan finishing it off when he tried a centering pass to Brouwer that bounced off Chicago’s defenseman. Like his linemate Bennett, it was his first goal in 10 games.
The Flames were unsuccessful on their third attempt on the PP midway through the second. Surprise, surprise.
Chicago had their first chance on the power play after Matthew Tkachuk got his stick up on Marian Hossa, and Brent Seabrook made them pay with a laser of a shot that went off post and in.
Calgary had a chance to return the favor with their 4th power play of the game to end the second period. I’m running out of ways to say this, but Calgary’s power play again failed to score making them 0-4 so far tonight.
Calgary lead the way with 20 shots to Chicago’s 18 after two periods.
The third was a close battle with neither team able to produce any Grade A scoring chances. The best chance for Calgary came midway through when Monohan corralled a bouncing puck near the blue line and slid a pass down to Sam Bennett in front of the net who attempted to jam in under Crawford to no avail.
Despite another solid performance by Chad Johnson, the winning goal came when he failed to catch the puck off a shot from Artemi Panarin speeding down the wing. The puck dropped behind him allowing Marian Hossa to sneak in and tap it home with only left 2:23 left in the third. Johnson attempted to turn around and stop the puck before it crossed the line, but Hossa was standing in his way. Had the Flames not just burned their timeout after an icing call, they could have challenged the play which looked as if it could have been overturned.
With under a minute to go Monohan was pulled down in Chicago’s zone putting the Flames on their 5th power play of the game. Fittingly for this 2016-17 version of the Flames, the game ended with the power play creating chances and not scoring.
The Good: There was a lot of good for Calgary tonight. Besides misplaying Panarin’s shot, Chad Johnson was sturdy all night long. TJ Brodie played his best game of the season. Neither goal for Calgary happens without him, and he led the Flames with 23:34 of ice time. But Sam Bennett gets Flame of the Game for me. He led all skaters with 6 shots, generated a lot of chances in the offensive zone, and started the play in his own end on Monohan’s goal.
The Bad: You cant blame Gulutzan for taking the timeout at that stage in the game with the face-off in the Flame’s end, a tired group out for Calgary, and the Hawk’s about to send their best over the boards. But it backfired on him when they could not use the coach’s challenge on the winning goal that had a very good chance of being called back on goalie interference.
The Ugly: The Flames power play has cost them points in the standings all season long and tonight was yet another example of its futility. It looked dangerous and did create chances, but Calgary went 0 for 5 while Chicago went 1 for 1.