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Late goal sinks Flames in setback to Blackhawks

Marian Hossa scored with 2:23 left in the third period to lift the 'Hawks to a 3-2 win over the Flames

by George Johnson @GeorgejohnsonCH /

CALGARY, AB -- That proverbial glass people are always talking about …

 Half empty? Or half full?

"Absolutely it's frustrating,'' sighed goaltender Chad Johnson. "To lose a game that late.

"But I think we played well.

"We have to realize that, too.

"Sometimes they get some lucky bounces and win a hockey game. That's how it is. There's nothing we can do about it.

"If we continue to play the same way, we know the majority of the time we're going to get wins and things are going to go our way.

"So we've just got to move on."

For 57 and a half minutes, propelled relentlessly forward by the revamped Johnny Gaudreau-deprived first line, the Calgary Flames had gone toe-to-toe, haymaker-for-haymaker, with the flexing-their-pecs Chicago Blackhawks, fresh off a 4-0 whitewash in Winnipeg and winners of seven of eight games, gorging themselves on 15 points of a possible 16 along that stretch.

The Flames outshot the Toews, Kane et al. Out-chanced 'em, too.

Video: Gulutzan following a 3-2 setback to Chicago

"These ones,'' conceded Calgary boss Glen Gulutzan, "are tough. I thought we played well. We needed a little bit more out of our specialty teams but I thought overall we played a good game.

"It's just unfortunate what happened at the end."

Ah, yes. The end. Only 2:23 remaining, game knotted and overtime looming, large.

Then a series of strange of events that cost Calgary at least a point.

Stopping up and using defenceman Dennis Wideman as a screen, Hawks' centre Artemi Planarian let fly. Catching sight of the puck late on, Johnson managed to get the webbing of his glove on the shot, which then cartwheeled into the air and dropped behind him.

From there, newly-minted 500-goal man Marian Hossa bulled his way into the blue paint and managed to nick the puck over the goal line.

Had a high stick been involved in the build-up?

Had Hossa inadvertently given the Flames' puck-repeller a slight nudge, which would have meant goaltender interference?

"(Panarin) made a good play,'' said Johnson, replaying the chaotic series of events. "He pulled it and then shot. It was right in that shoulder pocket there.

"It's a tough one for me. I'm just trying to get a piece of it, trying to get as much of it as I can.

"Again, kind of lucky, it goes right up and then drops behind me. I don't know what happened or who put it in.

"I knew there was contact but I didn't know where the puck was. It knew hit my glove and kinda my shoulder. I didn't know if it went up or if it was going to come out in front.

"It was kinda like: 'Where is it?'

"No one knew."

Having used his timeout earlier in the period, coach Glen Gulutzan had no challenge recourse.

"These things happen,'' Gulutzan . "It was a high shot, ended up going up in the air and wasn't going in originally. It was our stick that (the puck hit) and we knew that.

"So we knew it was a high stick and whose stick hit it but, yes, we would have challenged the goalie interference."

So the two game win streak is over. But there are certainly positives to build from.

Most noticeably, that aforementioned No. 1 line, with Bennett shifted to the flank from centre. Saturday, the trio combined for all six of Calgary's points: Bennett and Sean Monahan contributing a goal and an assist apiece and Troy Brouwer two helpers.

Video: CHI@CGY: Bennett crashes net, jams home a rebound

"I thought,'' said Monahan, "that last game we started clicking a little bit and tonight that kinda grew.

"When we're skating and we're physical, we're into the game. That's when we're on top. We've got to find a way to do that all the time.

"(Bennett) is aggressive and he obviously wants to be involved. So it's good to have him there and obviously he generates some speed with the puck, too."

Both Bennett and Monahan snapped 10-game goalless droughts, another good sign.

"I thought we were getting a lot of chances and moving the puck well,'' agreed Bennett, credited with half a dozen of the 30 shots faced by 'Hawks goalie Corey Crawford. "For the most part our team played really well 5-on-5.

"Obviously our special teams need to be better. We've been saying that for a while.

"If we get one on the (0-for-5) power play there, we have a different outcome."

"That's a positive,'' echoed Gulutzan of the line. "Benny and Monny and Brou. They had a hard match-up, too, against Jonathan (Toews).

"That's encouraging.''

So now the Flames embark on a taxing road swing, opening Sunday at The Joe in Detroit.

Six fixtures in nine nights, including two back-to-backs.

"When we're competing,'' emphasized Monahan, "we're a good team. When we're working together, we're at our best.

"Tonight we showed that.

"Obviously we'd have liked to have won. We thought we should've gotten more out of tonight. But we've got to get ready for this road trip and move forward."

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