The Calgary Flames were able to exorcise some demons from Game 1 as the much-maligned power play got rolling again and captain Jarome Iginla came up big in the tight 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
GAME IN A MINUTE
THE NUMBERS GAME
1 - Power play goal in 47 chances for the Flames
28:57 - Ice time for Dion Phaneuf
2 - Points for Jarome Iginla
THE BIG HIT
Duncan Keith was leveled by captain Jarome Iginla behind the Chicago net, checking the defenseman into the glass hard.
THE BIG SAVE
Young superstar Patrick Kane nearly tied the game up with a hot wrist shot that he wired from right in front of the net but Miikka Kiprusoff got his blocker on it.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
After gaining a 2-0 lead, the Flames allowed three straight from Chicago. They took their foot off the gas just a bit and the Blackhawks took full advantage.
OUR THREE STARS
1. Iginla - Elevated his game by leaps and bounds
2. Cammalleri - Pressed hard for 60 minutes
3. Aucoin - Former 'Hawks captain was a gritty force
Injured players include Robyn Regehr (lower body), Mark Giordano (shoulder). Wayne Primeau (foot) and Rhett Warrener (shoulder) are out indefinitely. Scratched players included Warren Peters, Andre Roy, Anders Eriksson, Brett Cutter, Kyle Greentree, Matt Pelech, John Negrin, David Van Der Gulik, Leland Irving, Matt Keetley.
The Flames will have the C of Red behind them in Game 3 as the series moves back to Calgary on Monday. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. on TSN & The FAN 960.
Prior to the game, associate coach Jim Playfair said that in order for Calgary to flourish, the club's superstars, including Iginla, needed to pick up their games.
"I think the onus is on Olli and Jarome to recognize they have to do a better job working together - get more pucks to the net and be stronger on pucks."
General manager Darryl Sutter had reiterated that point earlier in the week, saying the top line players needed to be on the plus side and Iginla definitely recieved the message.
He scored the team's first goal, on the power play, and assisted on Adrian Aucoin's tally later on. He was a +1 on the night and played a much more complete game than on Thursday.
In terms of shots, Iginla only had three on Thursday night but by the time the 20:00 mark rolled around, the captain had four already. At the end of the 60:00, he led the Flames with six shots and had a 67 per cent win rate in the faceoff circle, also leading the club in that regard.
There will be a little bit of relief for the team now that they've shaken off their power play woes. Iginla's goal came just seven seconds into the Flames first power play and came as a result of having a man in front of Nikolai Khabibulin.
With Mike Cammalleri standing on the doorstep, the sniper batted at a rebound an the puck bounced right onto a waiting Iginla's stick who had an easy tap-in.
"We'll take any positive we can," said Cammalleri. "Scoring on the power play is definitely a positive for us right now."
The Flames weren't able to generate any other offense with the man advantage but were able to garner more than chances than they have in previous games.
The goal was the first in 47 chances for the club, dating back 11 games.
Another positive for the Flames was the return of Cory Sarich. The veteran blueliner was sidelined from a lower body injury since Mar. 30's game against San Jose. Playfair said the return of Sarich was a huge boost to the team.
"First of all, Cory's a strong defender. I think he makes it very hard for the opposition to play against us and he does a really good job of moving pucks. His first pass has really improved this year because he's adjusted to a new system. He's won a Stanley Cup, he's been around winning this time of year and you can't replace that."
Playfair also added that while Sarich's name isn't usually associated with the team's leadership crew, the Saskatoon native plays a large, albeit quieter, part in the dressing room.
"He's a real consistent defender and I think that when you have those types of people, like him and Robyn Regehr, you don't spend a whole lot of time talking about it but executing and I think that's why our leadership is really consistent and really strong. That's where Cory is. He's not a real loud guy in the dressing room because his demeanor and his presence is a huge confidence boost to our group. That's where his leadership lies."
Sarich had limited ice time his return and did leave the bench midway through the game but the coaching staff quickly dispelled any thoughts he wouldn't be back for Game 3 in Calgary, saying it was just a precautionary measure.
In total, Sarich had 7:12 of ice time in 15 shifts and spent time on both the power play and penalty kill. He was a -1 on the night.