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Blackhawks edge Flames on Kane's third-period goal

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- The Chicago Blackhawks started their "Circus Trip" on the right foot.

Patrick Kane scored his second game-winner in as many games midway through the third period, and Corey Crawford made 24 saves to lift the Blackhawks to a 4-3 win against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday.

"We enjoy this trip and enjoy being together," Kane said. "I think it's nice coming to Western Canada. We enjoy playing hockey in this environment, where hockey's like god's country here. It's important to start that way. I think we enjoy it. I think for these 'Circus Trips' especially you want to take it a game at a time and not worry about what the overall record is going to be at the start. Just take it game by game."

Chicago has five games remaining on its trip while United Center plays host to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for the next 10 days. The Blackhawks improved to 21-9-2 when giving way to the circus since coach Joel Quenneville was hired Oct. 16, 2008, including 6-1-0 last season.

The loss snapped Calgary's three-game winning streak.

"For the most part, we had a pretty good hockey game," Flames forward Curtis Glencross said. "We had a couple of turnovers and a couple mental breakdowns, that's how they got a couple goals, but at the same time we have to take a lot of positives out of that game too. They're probably one of the best teams in the League, and we had a game with them all night. The game could have gone either way.

"That was a good hockey game. Unfortunately, one team's got to lose."

An unassisted goal by Kane gave Chicago its third lead of the game, and the Blackhawks held on from there to win their second straight.

After Jonas Hiller failed to clear the puck behind the net, Kane jumped on the loose puck and tapped it between the skates of Sven Baertschi before sliding it under the Calgary goaltender at 9:12 of the third to put the Blackhawks up 4-3.

"I pulled it to my backhand through the guy, and luckily it got through and even luckier scoring a goal like that," said Kane, who has a goal in three straight. "I'm sure Hiller probably didn't expect it coming off the boards. I think a couple guys swiped at it, and it came right to me."

Kane's goal, his seventh, was his fifth in the third period this season.

"Sometimes it just happens like that during stretches," Kane said. "Obviously you want to be counted on in third periods to produce and to make plays. When you do get those opportunities, you want to find a way to produce with the chance."

Chicago, which has allowed an NHL-low seven third-period goals, shut down one of the most potent third-period offenses in the League. Entering the game, the Flames had scored 27 goals in the third, trailing only the Montreal Canadiens, who had 28.

In fact, the Blackhawks limited the Flames to four shots until a hooking penalty to Niklas Hjalmarsson gave Calgary a late power play. But Crawford stopped three more, including a one-time blast from Mark Giordano with Hiller on the bench for the extra attacker.

The Blackhawks scored twice on Hiller to open the game before the Flames could get one past Crawford.

Exactly four minutes into the game and with four seconds remaining to TJ Brodie's minor for holding the stick, rookie Adam Clendening, playing in his first NHL game, sent a shot through a screen that beat Hiller for his first NHL goal to put Chicago up 1-0.

"[Marian Hossa] made a good play getting it through that guy, bringing him over," Clendening said. "I had a lane and just tried to shoot as hard as I could. It ended up finding a way."

The goal came on Clendening's first NHL shot and his second shift in the NHL. He's the third player currently on the Blackhawks roster to score his first NHL goal on his first NHL shot, joining Jonathan Toews and Andrew Shaw.

Clendening didn't immediately know the goal was his. A delayed celebration followed from the 22-year-old.

"I didn't know it actually went in," he said. "I think it might've hit off one of their guys and found its way in. As soon as [Hossa] put his hands up, I knew it was in. I just couldn't believe it."

Daniel Carcillo extended the lead to two at 7:12. After Paul Byron turned the puck over at the Flames blue line, the Blackhawks forward placed a shot just inside the far post. Prior to playing against the Dallas Stars on Sunday, Carcillo had missed 10 games with a knee sprain.

Calgary's first shot on Crawford came 27 seconds later. Their sixth hit the back of the net.

Crawford stopped Josh Jooris' initial shot but kicked the rebound right onto the stick of Byron, who wasted little time atoning for his earlier mistake by putting the puck in the gaping net at 13:44 to cut Chicago's lead to 2-1. The goal was Byron's fourth goal in as many games after he went 16 straight without scoring.

It also came with Marcus Kruger in the penalty box and halted Chicago's penalty-killing streak. The Blackhawks had gone three straight games without giving up a power-play goal. They had not surrendered a goal while shorthanded since Nov. 9 against the San Jose Sharks -- a span of 10 periods -- and had given up four power-play goals all season, an NHL best.

It took Calgary 54 seconds to score a second power-play goal.

With Hjalmarsson in the penalty box after he was whistled for tripping on Byron's goal, Dennis Wideman sent a shot through a screen that beat Crawford to pull the Flames even. Wideman's goal, his eighth, is his third in two games and leads all NHL defensemen.

The Blackhawks and Flames traded goals again in the second period.

Kris Versteeg sent a shot off Hiller's right pad, but Kane pulled the rebound off the boards and fed Brent Seabrook in the slot. Seabrook, playing in his 700th NHL game, beat the Flames goaltender to the glove side at 10:52 to restore Chicago's lead.

The goal gave Chicago the lead, but it would stand for less than two minutes.

After gaining the zone, Glencross spotted an open Sean Monahan, who one-timed the pass over a sprawling Crawford to tie the game 3-3 at 12:33.

"I think we competed hard," Monahan said. "I don't think anyone can complain about the effort we gave, but I think on home ice, we still have to find ways to win. I think, as a group, we're not too happy about the loss.

"We know we can compete with these teams, so I don't know if there's much of a positive tonight after a loss. We just have to find ways to win. We know we're up there with those teams and we have a solid group right now and we're rolling, so we're not happy about the loss."

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