The Calgary Flames’ hot start was long gone by the time they rolled into the United Center, a place where they lost twice last season, and haven’t won in for 5 years. The Chicago Blackhawks were looking to continue their solid play, and many pegged the ‘Hawks as “The team to beat”, despite not leading their respective conference, or even division, in points. Calgary goalie Reto Berra got the start for the first time in his NHL career, while Corey Crawford was in-goal for the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks started the game off well, with some extended time in the offensive zone thanks to an early power-play. The Flames proved to be a suitable opponent for the early stages, with the young club having no trouble skating with the speedy ‘Hawks, and rookie goalie Berra did not seem perturbed by the offense Chicago put on him. The Blackhawks directed a lot of rubber at the net, with 15 shots in 16 minutes, but Berra held strong , due to lack of quality. The Flames had 11 shots of their own, but neither team could find the back of the net after 20 minutes.
The Blackhawks dominated play throughout the first 2 minutes of the second period, with almost all of it spent in the offensive zone. The Flames turned it around on a line change, and T.J. Garliardi’s breakaway got stopped short by a strong Marian Hossa back-check. It wasn’t legal, drawing a Flames’ penalty shot, but Galiardi sent it wide. The Blackhawks finally struck first, when Patrick Kane wheeled all the way around the offensive end before sniping it short-side for the 1-0 lead. The advantage wasn’t made to last, however, as a Mike Cammalleri re-direction tied the game up only 40 seconds later. After the goal, play was a little sloppy, and the Blackhawks seemed to forget how to pick up a pass. Marian Hossa had a breakaway of his own, the most exciting play of the final minutes, but it wouldn’t go. The Blackhawks and Flames would head into the dressing rooms tied once again, this time with a goal apiece. The Blackhawks led in shots 30-21 after 40 minutes.
Calgary started off the third period with a bang, when Curtis Glencross scored just 2:16 into the frame to make it 2-1. Calgary was playing some of their best hockey early in the third, and the Blackhawks had trouble sustaining pressure in the offensive zone. The Flames controlled the flow of the game for the next dozen minutes, before Calgary got themselves into some penalty trouble. Kris Butler and Matt Stajan took penalties 28 seconds apart. The Blackhawks had to convert on the ensuing 5-on-3, and they did. Marian Hossa took a one-time pass from Kane that froze Berra, knotting the score at 2 with four minutes to go. No more goals were to be scored, and the game was off to extra time.
It didn’t take long for the Flames to ice it. Kris Russell got the puck on the point and slapped a curveball home, over the right shoulder of Crawford. The Flames won the game 3-2, taking two points away from Chicago for the first time in almost 5 years.
Reto Berra made 42 saves in his NHL debut, picking up the win.
The Blackhawks put 44 shots on net in 60 minutes, and none in overtime, their highest total of the season.
Chicago’s Power-play was at it again, scoring for the 8th time in the last 9 games. The lone exception was Saturday against the Jets, where there was only one power-play opportunity.
The Blackhawks take on the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday, but have some fun planned before that: They travel to the White House on Monday to meet with Barack Obama for the second time in 4 years.
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