CHICAGO – The beat goes on for the banged-up Chicago Blackhawks, who keep running into roadblocks in defense of their 2010 Stanley Cup championship.
Instead of just enjoying a hard-earned two points in the standings after downing Calgary 4-2 in front of 21,112 at the United Center on Sunday night, the Hawks now have another injury to overcome. This time it’s star forward Patrick Kane, who left the game with an undisclosed lower-body injury after playing just 23 seconds.
Kane, who went down awkwardly while trying to avoid a hit by Cory Sarich, will likely be out for "a little bit," according to Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.
"We'll know more (on Monday) exactly where we're at with him," Quenneville said. "We say, 'a bit.' It's tough to speculate. We don't want to go into it right now, but it's not real serious. We'll go to that extent."
Kane is Chicago's second-leading scorer with 27 points (11 goals), but now will likely join fellow injured forwards Marian Hossa (lower body) and Fernando Pisani (upper body). Pisani is listed as day-to-day, while Hossa could be out for a couple more weeks.
"Injuries are always something you have to deal with," Quenneville said. "It's never going to be a perfect season health-wise. You get tested. You get challenged organizationally. You find out about some people and it'll be something we'll be finding out (on Monday) without Kaner for a bit here."
Immediate returns looked good on Sunday without Kane, who came into the game with 15 points in his last 13 games.
The Hawks (15-12-2) survived a strange game that saw all but one goal scored in the first period and all on the power play – including Dave Bolland's empty-netter with 15 seconds left in the third to seal the win. The teams also combined for a whopping 21 penalties and 17 power plays – Chicago finishing 4-of-9 and Calgary 2-of-8.
Meanwhile, Hawks rookie goalie Corey Crawford again came up big after allowing the two early goals. He made 24 saves against 26 shots – including several during three Calgary power plays in the third to get the win.
Crawford (7-4-0) now has a personal six-game winning streak.
"That's good," the low-key Crawford said. "I'm not going to argue with that, but the big thing is we've just got to keep working here and keep giving our best effort and doing the little things right. In the end, that paid off tonight … the little things."
On the flip side, Flames coach Brent Sutter said it wasn't doing the little things that led to his team's loss – its ninth in the last 10 against Chicago. After scoring on its first two power plays, Calgary went 0-for-6 with the man-advantage during the final two periods -- including 0-for-4 in the third.
"We were just standing and weren't generating anything," Sutter said. "When you stand still, you give teams opportunities to get into shooting lanes and block some shots. We just didn't generate enough."
Sutter was displeased with both of his special-teams units.
"Five-on-five we were fine," he said. "Your goaltender needs to be your best penalty killer and he wasn't that. In the third period, you have six minutes of power-plays in the last eight minutes of the game and you don't generate enough."
The Hawks generated just enough for the win after a high-scoring first period made it seem like goals would come fast and furious. Chicago got out to a 2-0 lead on the goals by Bickell and Bolland in the first half of the first – with Bolland scoring the Hawks' first 5-on-3 goal of the season.
Bickell beat Kiprusoff high to the glove side with a wrister from the slot, while Bolland tapped in a perfect feed through the crease from Toews. It was also the first 5-on-3 goal of the season allowed by the Flames, who responded by knotting the game 2-2 in the next 6:07. Calgary also used power plays to even the score – getting a pair of man-advantage markers by Iginla and Babchuck, both of whom beat Crawford with slap shots.
Iginla blasted his 11th goal of the season from the slot after a feed by Rene Bourque, while Babchuk potted his fourth of the season from the top of the left circle for the equalizer.
Yet another Chicago power-play goal at 17:33 of the first put the Hawks on top for good, 3-2, when Toews backhanded a puck past Kiprusoff during a scramble in front of the goal. That power play was sparked by a high sticking double minor assessed to forward David Moss, who caught Jack Skille in the face with a swat of his stick.
It was also the second high-sticking penalty of the period called on Moss, with his first one creating Chicago's 5-on-3 advantage. Seabrook returned the favor in the third by picking up his own double minor for high-sticking, but Chicago killed it off and then killed off back-to-back penalties by Bolland and Jake Dowell to clinch the win.
Still, the latest injury hurdle was fresh on the Hawks' minds after the game -- despite getting the much needed two points in the standings.
"We'll take an ugly win like that once in awhile," Toews said. "If we have to do that in the future without Kaner, it is what it is. We found a way without some of our top players like (Brian Campbell) and (Hossa), and I guess now we don't have a choice. We're going to have to do it without Kaner."
Bolland, who broke a 17-game scoreless drought, agreed. After returning from his own upper-body injury earlier this season, he said there isn’t time to wallow in self pity if the Hawks want to stay in thick of things in the Western Conference and Central Division.
"It's tough," Bolland said. "You can never have a perfect year. You can't let down and you can't look back. It's in the game and you've got to deal with that."
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