CALGARY – Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville didn't hold back when describing the all-world performance his goaltender put forth Saturday night.
"That was criminal," Quenneville said of Ray Emery, who stopped 45 shots before going 3-for-3 in the shootout to lead the Blackhawks to a 3-2 win against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. "They've got to call the cops after that performance. He stole two points. He was spectacular. I've never ever been outplayed, out-chanced like that in my life."
Marian Hossa erased a 2-1 deficit with 3.1 seconds remaining in regulation and Patrick Kane had a goal, assist and the shootout winner for Chicago, which was coming off back-to-back shootout losses and was playing its second game in as many days and third in four nights. Having to playing that much hockey in a short span, the Blackhawks were in need of a spark. Emery provided it.
"He was awesome, fun to watch," Kane said. "We obviously got outplayed. (We) shouldn't have won that game. He is the only reason we did. It's good to see, especially for a backup goaltender like that. We have confidence in him and he really showed us tonight. They almost had 50 shots and he played unbelievable. Two points go to him."
The loss drops the Flames to 1-3-2 on the season but coach Bob Hartley believes the team is heading in the right direction despite back-to-back losses.
"If we play every game like we played tonight, we're going to turn our season around, that's for sure," Harltey said.
"[Our players] had their heads down, but I told them that this is the kind of hockey that we want to play and the hockey gods might take a turn for us."
After unsuccessful attempts from Alex Tanguay and Jonathan Toews in the shootout, Emery stopped Jiri Hudler on Calgary's second shootout attempt. Kane stepped up and deked Flames starter Miikka Kiprusoff, sliding the puck between his legs for the shootout's only goal. Emery denied Roman Cervenka on Calgary's final chance to secure the victory.
Kane was previously 0-2 in Chicago's shootout losses.
"You don't want to go 0-3. It was nice to score one there," Kane said. "I was just kind of watching the replay there on what Kiprusoff did and he bit and I thought his five-hole opened when Jonny went down on him. I thought I'd take advantage of that. Razor stopped all three and we needed one. Good finish to a game we could've played better."
The shootout was a necessity after Emery was able to hold the Flames at bay in overtime.
With a power play in the extra frame, Emery closed the door on both Hudler and Tanguay. He then got an assist from the post on Jarome Iginla's wrist shot. Returning to even strength, the Flames continued to press in the offensive end, but couldn't sneak another puck past Emery.
Some late-game heroics from Hossa enabled Chicago to limp into overtime, too.
Trailing after Jay Bouwmeeseter broke a 1-1 tie with 34.2 seconds remaining in the third period, Hossa picked up a loose puck in the slot and fired it over the glove of Kiprusoff to tie the game with 3.1 seconds left and force overtime.
That goal came after 24-save third period effort from Emery, whose thieving began right from the drop of the puck to start the game.
But after a sluggish start with their heavy schedule, it was Chicago who almost opened the scoring on their first shot.
After keeping the play onside at the blue line, Kane found Toews at the side of the net. Kiprusoff sprawled in full splits to blocker away Toews' opportunity and kept the game scoreless five minutes in.
Opening up early in the second period, both teams traded clear-cut breakaways.
Forty-seven seconds into the period, Hossa stripped the puck from Flames defenseman TJ Brodie and broke in untouched on Kiprusoff. Uncorking a slap shot from the hashmarks, Hossa got enough on the shot to get it through the Calgary keeper but not enough to propel it over the line.
Five minutes after Hossa's chance, Jarome Iginla had a similar opportunity. Skating in alone from center ice, Iginla tried squeezing his first of the season through the legs of Emery but was denied for one of 10 stops made by the Blackhawks' goaltender in the period.
Scoreless entering the third, Calgary pushed the pace against the tired Chicago club.
Matt Stajan pulled the puck from the feet of Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook and fired a shot that went off the shoulder of Emery just 33 seconds in. Two minutes later, Curtis Glencross took a stretch pass from Dennis Wideman and broke in on a partial break, ringing the puck of the crossbar.
Kane capitalized on Glencross' misfortune, converting on a Patrick Sharp rebound and sliding it under Flames goalie Kiprusoff to make it 1-0 4:08 into the period.
Pressing for the equalizer and staring at an open net, Mikael Backlund had the puck roll off his stick after a Glencross feed left him staring at a gaping cage. Emery then flashed his pad on Tanguay cutting through the crease after a Michael Cammalleri feed and denied both Backlund and Glencross one more time.
With Duncan Keith in the box for delay of game after knocking the Chicago net off under pressure, the Flames drew even.
Wideman's centering feed hit the skate of Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook and directed into the net at 13:23 for his first as a member of the Flames. Tanguay recorded his 500th career assist on the play.
On another power play with less than two minutes remaining, Cervenka centered the puck from behind the net onto the stick of Hudler alone in the slot, but Emery denied him on with his pad on the initial attempt and Glencross with the rebound on the doorstep.
Bouwmeester and Hossa then exchanged goals in the final minute to force overtime and Kane's eventual shootout winner.
"We had a tough schedule," Emery said. "I thought we did a good job of managing the flurries that they came at us in. We got goals at the end when we needed them. We didn't quit even though they got one with 30 seconds left. We battled right to the end, got one with two seconds left and got one in the shootout. They're not going to be pretty all the time but those ones, those are the ones you need to eke out if you want to have a good year."