TAKEAWAY ONE: Faltering in the first
After an unbelievable third period against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night, many assumed the Flames would come out with that kind of jump against the surging Chicago Blackhawks. That wasn't the case.
The Flames were lucky to escape the first period down by a single goal after the Blackhawks managed to hem them inside their own zone for a large portion of the period. Both Chicago goals occurred after sloppy defensive plays, something head coach Brent Sutter specified as something the needed to avoid at all costs at the Flames morning skate.
"When you become a better defensive team, you become a better road team," he stated. "It all goes hand in hand. You play well defensively, and everyone makes that commitment defensively to do it the right way, you'll create offence off that."
TAKEAWAY TWO: Slick six
Alex Tanguay added to his goal total during his hot streak with a power play marker in the first period. The 31 year-old is riding a six-game point streak with three goals and nine points in that span.
His howitzer of a shot has been crucial in the Flames power play success and that's exactly how he scored his 18th of the year. Taking a pass from Iginla, Tanguay sent a blast through a crowd and netminder Corey Crawford didn't see the puck until it was in his net.
Iginla also built on his red-hot play, earning his second straight three-point outing. The captain had a goal and two assists in the loss.
TAKEAWAY THREE: Close calls
Not only did the Hawks push the score to 4-1 in the second period, they also kept the Flames doctors busy.
Midway through the second period, Niklas Hagman weaved his way through the neutral zone, spinning around a Hawk before attempting to deposit the puck into the offensive zone. Unfortunately, his head was down as he spun and he didn't see the freight train known as Troy Brouwer coming.
The Hawks forward sent Hagman sprawling to ice, landing hard on his left side. He immediately got to his feet and went to the locker room.
Mark Giordano was leveled from behind by defenceman Keith Seabrook while the Flames were on the power play later in the period. The momentum of the hit sent Giordano's head heard into the boards. He was shaken up and needed to head to the locker room to get his bearings.
Giordano's defence partner Cory Sarich also needed repairs after taking a skate blade to cheek.
Hagman, Giordano and Sarich all returned in the game but pivot Brendan Morrison took a hard hit late in the third period and left the tilt with a lower body injury.
TAKEAWAY FOUR: Captain clutch
Jonathan Toews has been the main reason his team has squeezed themselves back into the playoff picture. Toews has been a torrid streak since late January and was named the NHL's first star in the month of February when he amassed 21 points (6 g, 15 a) in 28 days.
He kept that pace rolling against the Flames, scoring twice in the Chicago win. Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp, Toews was dangerous during every shift he had. He not only produced on the scoresheet, he generated chances and played an incredibly solid defensive game.
TAKEAWAY FIVE: Back-to-back broken
Until Wednesday, the Flames had won three consecutive back-to-back series dating back to Dec. 31-Jan. 1 when they defeated divisional rivals, the Colorado Avalanche and the Edmonton Oilers.
The Flames will need to get their groove back in back-to-back scenarios as they play two more sets in the month of March. All four tilts are against teams chasing Western Conference playoff positions: the Dallas Stars, Phoenix Coyotes, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings.
"We've got to approach back-to-backs the same way we would any other game," Giordano said prior to leaving on their two-game road swing. "We can't worry about fatigue or anything. We're battling for our lives."