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Chicago Blackhawks take series against Calgary Flames with 4-1 win

NHL.com @NHL

CALGARY - The Chicago Blackhawks won their first playoff series in 13 years with a 4-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Monday.

The Blackhawks took the best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final series 4-2. Chicago's previous playoff series win was a four-game sweep of Calgary in 1996.

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist for Chicago with Adam Burish and defenceman Brian Campbell also scoring. Dustin Byfuglien added an empty-net goal and had two assists. Calder Trophy nominee Kris Versteeg also contributed two assists.

Todd Bertuzzi scored the lone goal for the Flames, who managed just two goals in the final two games of the series and were ousted in the first round for a fourth straight season.

Nikolai Khabibulin played a stellar game in net for the Blackhawks with a 43-save performance. He robbed Calgary's Olli Jokinen on scoring chances in the first and second periods.

Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 12 of 15 shots in the loss.

Chicago scored three unanswered goals in the first two periods, and the Flames could draw little adrenalin from a frustrated Pengrowth Saddledome crowd until Bertuzzi struck in the first minute to inject some hope into the sea of red.

The Flames pressed for more goals in the third and pulled Kiprusoff with over two minutes remaining for an extra attacker. But the injury-riddled club didn't have the depth to push past the youthful Blackhawks and send the series back to Chicago for a Game 7.

Calgary defenceman Dion Phaneuf was scratched from the lineup because of a hard check and helmet-to-helmet contact from Chicago's Troy Brouwer in Game 5.

Without Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr, who hasn't played this series because of a knee injury, the Flames' defence couldn't contain six-foot-three, 247-pound Byfuglien, who assisted on Chicago's two goals in the first period.

Forwards Rene Bourque, Daymond Langkow and Craig Conroy played Monday, but not with a full tank. Bourque played on a sore ankle that kept him out the final 24 games of the regular season. Langkow took a shot off his right hand in Game 4 and that affected his ability to shoot the puck. Conroy missed most of Game 4 after a hard check in the first period.

While Calgary outshot Chicago 44-16 on Monday, many of those attempts were from the perimeter and the Flames couldn't stretch out Chicago's defence enough to open up scoring chances from close range.

The Flames ended the regular season scoreless on their last 45 power-play chances. They were only marginally better during the post-season with two goals on 18 opportunities a man up.

With 14 players under the age of 25, the Blackhawks are the youngest team in the NHL. Their lack of playoff experience was thought to be a disadvantage heading into the series, but the 'Hawks were poised and tenacious against the older, more experienced Flames.

They were quicker out of their own end, faster on the forecheck and weren't afraid to engage Calgary physically. Chicago was also the healthier team through the series as they iced the same lineup every game with the exception of substituting Colin Fraser in for Kane in Game 3.

Their top defensive pairing of Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith played a key role in holding Flames captain Jarome Iginla to three goals and an assist.

Bertuzzi skated deep down the wing and beat Khabibulin with a sharp-angled shot over the Russian's shoulder 54 seconds into the third. It was Bertuzzi's first goal of this post-season.

Calgary outshot Chicago 17-4 in the second period, but was unable to convert to power-play chances in the first half of the frame. Meanwhile the Blackhawks scored a power-play goal on just their second shot of the period to make it 3-0.

Defenceman Brian Campbell's slapshot from the point through traffic beat Kiprusoff glove side for Chicago's second power-play goal of the game and their seventh this series after Calgary was called for too many men on the ice at 13:31.

Khabibulin sprawled and got a glove on Jokinen's attempt to shovel the puck past him midway through the second.

Byfuglien lugged the puck through the offensive and circled behind the net to the half-boards before passing it off to Burish, who beat Kiprusoff at 10:11. The Calgary defence was pinching towards Byfuglien on the play, which left Burish unchecked.

With Bertuzzi in the penalty box for elbowing, Kane made it 1-0 for Chicago at 2:20. From the bottom of the circle, Versteeg tried to connect with Byfuglien parked in front of the net for a tip in, but the puck deflected out front for Kane, the No. 1 pick by Chicago in the 2007 NHL draft, who made the most of it.

Notes: Chicago outscored Calgary 10-5 in the second periods in the series . . . With the exception of their run to the Stanley Cup final in 2004, the Flames haven't made it out of the first round of playoffs since winning the Cup in 1989.

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