The Calgary Flames faced a tough contender tonight as the Chicago Blackhawks visited the Saddledome in the last matchup this season between these two teams. Joni Ortio got the nod in net while the starting lineup consisted of Mark Giordano, Deryk Engelland, Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Freddie Hamilton.
The Hawks put on the pressure early, testing Ortio. Lance Bouma had a good chance, skating the puck over the blue line and passing it off to Michael Frolik, who took a shot on net only to be stopped. Garnet Hathaway took out Seabrook in the far boards as the Hawks defenseman tried but failed to stop the Hathaway freight train. Chicago was obviously getting under the skin of the Calgary players, who started pushing and shoving after more Hawks pressure. As the Flames were making a line change, the puck was passed up to Toews at the Flames blue line, but luckily the Hawks captain couldn't contain the puck and he lost the chance at a breakaway. The Bouma, Frolik, Backlund line was the best line again during the first period with the most chances on net. After the obligatory slashing on Johnny's hands by the opposition (and no call), the game was scoreless after 20 minutes.
The Flames shot back at the Hawks to start the middle period, but a Flames penalty killed the momentum and Calgary went on the penalty kill. During the PK, Michael Frolik, the short-handed king, had another shot at a goal only to be denied by Darling. Ortio kept the Flames in the game after being peppered with shots at the other end until the penalty expired. In a rare mistake, T.J. Brodie passed the puck straight to Ladd who notched the first goal of the game to put the Hawks up 1-0. The Flames looked desperate for the rest of the period, but that desperation led to a milestone moment for the two Hamilton brothers as Freddie Hamilton shovelled a pass to Dougie who tied the game 1-1. When Shaw hit Bennett, Hathaway took it upon himself to get involved, which landed Shaw and Hath in the sin bin. As they sat in their penalty boxes, they kept on exchanging pleasantries from behind the glass. Dougie Hamilton collided with Seabrook and Toews got involved by slamming Dougie into the ice. It was a Flames power play, but Calgary couldn't seem to settle down enough to capitalize. At the other end of the ice, Ortio stood on his head as much as possible without his stick, but, inevitably, the Hawks buried one and the score was 2-1 heading into the final 20 minutes.
It was a rather mellow third period. The Flames calmed down enough to focus their energy on their plays instead of allowing the opposition to get into their heads. The defense held off any attempt by Chicago on the net and the offense generated a few plays, but nothing substantial. Even an extra attacker couldn't help the Flames to tie the game. Instead, the ref got in Gaudreau's way which resulted in a turnover and an empty net goal for Chicago. One last empty-netter would finalize the score 4-1 for the Hawks.
Flame Of The Game
Joni Ortio. With 23 saves on 25 shots and a save percentage of .920, tonight's game could have been a lot worse if it weren't for the efforts of Ortio. He saved the team throughout most of the game and he's usually consistent in net when he gets the start. Keep in mind that Ortio is only 24 years old and hasn't yet hit his prime. If he keeps working hard and keeps his play consistent, he could have a great future in the net if the Flames decide to keep him.