With a 5-2 win, the Chicago Blackhawks swept the Calgary Flames in the season series. The Blackhawks have now won 11 straight games over Canadian teams.
The Calgary Flames came into the game with focus. After Tuesday's loss to the Dallas Stars, General Manager Darryl Sutter held a closed door meeting with the team. The message was clear: things have to change and they have to change now.
"We just have to make sure we know where we want to go and stay on that track," said Robyn Regher prior to tonight's game. "It's a long season and there's ups and downs but for us, we need to make some minor changes in our game. We're not talking complete overhauls here. We're talking little things that need to be done over and over again and when we do those things, we win hockey games."
The Blackhawks opened the scoring just 42 seconds into the game. Dave Bolland scored his 11th of the season with a tip-in from Martin Havlat's shot. Andrew Ladd also picked up a helper on the tally.
Todd Bertuzzi took a holding call at 4:16 and the Flames had a chance to improve upon their penalty killing. Special teams was one of the concerns facing the Flames after Tuesday's loss against Dallas.
"The penalty kill hasn't been good enough and if we can turn that around, the power play hasn been good and we'll get this thing back on track," said Craig Conroy prior to the game.
The kill went well with the Flames not giving the Hawks a shot on net and as the Bertuzzi minor ended, Jarome Iginla spotted the forward leaping out of the box and sprung him for a breakaway. Bertuzzi used his soft hands to deke out Nikolai Khabibulin and scored with a nice backhand.
Bertuzzi's 13th goal of the year came at 6:28 with Iginla and Regehr getting the assists.
Just 17 seconds later, Chicago regained the lead. Ladd's snap shot that beat Kiprusoff's glove gave him his second point of the night. Bolland also picked up his second point of the game with the assist.
"We just try to work and get pucks to the net," said Ladd of his line's strategy.
He also commented on why he thinks the Hawks have played well against Canadian teams this year. They've won 11 against Canadian teams this season.
"We've got a lot of western guys and family out here and that gives us incentive."
The Ladd goal gave Chicago 58 first frame goals this season, tying San Jose for first in the NHL.
Dion Phanuef evened the game up at 14:05. He skated around the Chicago net, shoved off the Hawks defenders and wired it over Khabibulin's right shoulder. The unassisted marker was Phaneuf's 7th of the season.
Adam Pardy took a roughing call late in the period. At 14:47, he was sent to the box for shoving Havlat in front of the Flames net.
The penalty kill was as potent as the first as the Flames only allowed the Hawks one shot on net.
Chicago took the first penalty of the second when Khabibulin made a bad play behind the net that led to Duncan Keith taking a tripping call. The Flames power play didn't garner any real chances as the Chicago penalty kill stifled all attempts to set up.
Shortly after Keith was out of the box, Pardy had his stick slashed and broken by Keith. The slashing minor came at 5:30.
The second man advantage of the period only garnered a single shot on net and Ladd was able to break free and get a short-handed chance. Kiprusoff hadto make a pad save to keep the game knotted up.
Rene Bourque took a interference call at 8:34 and the Flames penalty kill went back to work. They kept the Hawks down to one shot again, showing the improvements they were aiming at.
The Hawks retook the lead 11:28 when Adam Burrish deflected Matt Walker's shot from the boards. Ladd also assisted.
Daymond Langkow drew a four minute penalty when Patrick Kane high-sticked him off a face-off. Unfortunately, the Flames were unable to beat Khabibulin despite getting some decent scoring chances.
"That was probably the turning point for us, not scoring there," noted head coach Mike Keenan. "We've had a bit of a downcycle here but I expect we will respond."
The beginning of the third period saw the Hawks add to their lead after when Colin Fraser backhanded the puck on net and it just slipped through Kiprusoff's arm at 3:18. Walker picked a second straight helper on the goal.
After the goal, a skirmish developed behind the net and Flames took the extra penalty. Andre Roy took two roughing penalties, one served by Matthew Lombardi, and Walker took a roughing call for Chicago.
Mike Cammalleri had a glorious scoring chance at the 10 minute mark. He sent a blistering wrist shot towards the left corner but Khabibulin managed to get his glove on it.
After Ben Eager sent a shot on the Flames net, he and Eric Nystrom took coincidental penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct but the four on four action wouldn't last for long as Mark Giordano got called for tripping Kane.
The teams would trade penalty calls as Bolland shot the puck over the glass and was called for delay of game at 16:03.
Chicago sealed the game when Fred Brouwer scored a short-handed empty net goal at 17:52. Walker picked up his third straight assist on the goal.
The Flames drop their third straight game, the longest losing streak for Calgary this season.
"We can't get comfortable," sadi forward Eric Nystrom. "We have some big games coming up. They beat us in our own building, It's a little embarassing. We have to get focussed, get back on the same page and get our game back to where it should be."