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Chicago Blackhawks Edge Calgary Flames 4-3 In Circus Trip Opener

By Skylar Peters
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The Chicago Blackhawks hit the road, still searching for that consistency as an elite team, facing a Calgary Flames squad that has surprised everyone, including the Blackhawks themselves, early on in the season. With young players on both sides, it was set to be a dandy of a game, and it didn’t disappoint.

The Blackhawks got off to the start they wanted,  forcing the home team back into their end early on in the period. One of the Flames’ best penalty-killers, T.J. Brodie, took a holding-the-stick call just two minutes in.

On the tail end of the ensuing power-play, and on his second NHL shift, Adam Clendening’s blast from the point found the net, and the Blackhawks took the early lead on the rookie’s first career goal.

The ‘Hawks didn’t take their foot off the gas, as Daniel Carcillo stole the puck and sniped it wide off the post and in, giving the ‘Hawks a two-goal lead just 7:12 into the first period.

The Blackhawks would continue to dominate through the first 10 minutes of the period, but they would soon get into penalty trouble, and the tides would turn. Marcus Kruger would take an interference call at the 11-minute mark, and the ‘Hawks would be without his services on the following penalty-kill. It would cost them, as Paul Byron snapped his 5th goal of the year past Corey Crawford, cutting the Blackhawks’ lead in half.

As the Flames were celebrating their goal, another Blackhawk, and another penalty killer, Niklas Hjalmarsson,was headed to the box on a delayed tripping call.

Again, the Blackhawks’ penalty-kill would not survive, as Dennis Wideman’s point shot got past Crawford after a terrific screen by Mike Ferland. The Blackhawks had taken a 2-0 lead in just over three minutes, and in only 52 seconds, the Flames had taken it away.

The teams would skate into the first intermission tied at 2, but not before Jonathan Toews would take a hooking penalty after a puck to the upper-body dropped Niklas Hjalmarsson and the Flames took off on an odd-man rush. Shots at the end of 1 period were 12-11 Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks kicked off the second period by killing off the rest of the Jonathan Toews penalty from the period prior, and the two teams proceeded to exchange chances at each end.

It was only a matter of time before a team broke the gridlock, and Brent Seabrook was the one to do it. After a brilliant pass from Patrick Kane, Seabrook snapped home his 5th goal of the season in career game 700, and the Blackhawks got back in front, 3-2.

Like the first period, however, the lead would not last long. With the Flames set up in the offensive zone, Curtis Glencross wheeled into the middle of the ice and dished a great pass of his own to Sean Monahan, who made no mistake hitting the yawning net, tying the game at 3.

The Blackhawks would find themselves on the penalty-kill two more times before the period was out, when Michal Rozsival took a slashing call on a Flames defender in the offensive zone. The Blackhawks would kill that one off, and Rozsival would strangely disappear not soon after. Johnny Oduya took a delay-of-game penalty with 90 seconds remaining, but the Flames would void that with a Jiri Hudler tripping call with just seconds remaining in the period.

After two frames, the Blackhawks and Flames skated into the second intermission tied at 3. Shots after 40 minutes were 20-18 in favor of the Flames.

Both Hudler and Oduya would come out of the box at their scheduled times, and like the second, both teams traded offensive chances. Jonas Hiller and Corey Crawford stood strong for the first half of the period, but a brief break in concentration for the Calgary netminder ended up costing him. Hiller gave the puck away right to Patrick Kane, who undressed one defender and flipped the puck into the net, all while standing still. The Blackhawks took the lead for the third time of the night, this time a 4-3 advantage.

With just 3:32 remaining in the game, the Blackhawks took another minor penalty, this time to Hjalmarsson. The Blackhawks tied their season-high with the 6th minor penalty in the game, but the Flames could not capitalize on the 6-on-4.

Corey Crawford would make a pair of key stops in the remaining 90 seconds, and the Blackhawks skated away with a 4-3 victory against the Flames.

The Blackhawks kicked off their 10-day, 6-game, 7000-mile circus roadtrip with the win, which will see them visit Edmonton, Vancouver, Colorado, and California.

Crawford, playing in his 9th straight game, went 24-for-27 for a .889% save percentage and his 7th win of the season.

The last time Jonas Hiller faced the Blackhawks, he made 49 saves as he stole a Flames win. This time around, Hiller went 18-for-22, good for a .812% save percentage.

Patrick Kane was named the game’s First Star with a two-point night, giving him five points in his past two games.

The Blackhawks are back in action on Saturday night, when they take on the Edmonton Oilers at 9:00 PM CT. The Flames close up their five-game home-stand on Saturday, when they host the New Jersey Devils.

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