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Hiller's 49 saves help Flames edge Blackhawks

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks dominated the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night, but it wasn't enough to beat goalie Jonas Hiller or the fortitude of his teammates.

Despite being outshot 50-18 at United Center, the Flames won for the second time in as many nights by riding Hiller's 49-save effort to a 2-1 overtime victory that ended 25 seconds short of a shootout on center Mikael Backlund's goal.

It was the first time the Flames won a game in which they allowed 50-plus shots since Game 1 of the 2004 Western Conference Final, when they were victorious despite being outshot 52-37.

"Good ending," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. "That's almost like a golf game. Our drive went in the woods, but we took a stroke and we found a way to [make] par."

By nearly every measure but power-play success and final score, the Blackhawks (2-0-1) controlled this game. Including misses (16) and blocked shots (30), they launched 96 shot attempts to 33 for the Flames (3-2-0).

Calgary also handed the Blackhawks multiple opportunities to seize control by continually committing penalties that led to power plays. One of the Blackhawks' seven man-advantage situations was converted into a goal, and that one, scored by center Andrew Shaw at 14:15 of the third to tie it 1-1, needed a video review to see if his stick touched the puck above the crossbar.

Replays were inconclusive and the goal stood, but not even that doused the Flames' effort. They withstood more pressure from the Blackhawks in the waning moments of regulation and found new life in overtime, forcing goalie Corey Crawford (16 saves) to make a couple of great stops before Backlund ended it with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle.

It rewarded Hiller with his first victory as a member of the Flames after signing with them as a free agent. Coming into the game, he was 0-2-0 in his first two starts with a 3.53 goals-against average and .901 save percentage.

Hiller became the third goalie in Flames history to face 50 or more shots and allow one goal, joining Fred Brathwaite and Andrei Trefilov.

"[Tuesday] night and tonight, we definitely played how we want to play," Hiller said. "Everybody was working hard [and] doing everything. We were blocking shots. We were tight in our own end. We didn't given them too many great scoring chances and when they had them, there always seemed to be a stick there. I think that's the way we've got to play."

They might want to cut back on the penalties.

All seven the Flames committed resulted in power plays, which forced Hiller and the penalty killers in front of him to work hard for much of the game. Each successful kill, however, after they struggled to kill penalties in their first three games.

On the flip side, the Blackhawks have to be disappointed despite the point earned. After dropping two games in overtime to the Flames last season, it happened again in very unlikely fashion. They had multiple opportunities to score goals and take a comfortable lead, but each one fizzled.

Forward Daniel Carcillo squandered a couple opportunities in the first and third. Following nice feeds off the rush, he failed to collect the puck each time with wide openings in the net.

He wasn't alone.

Forward Bryan Bickell couldn't get his stick on a nice pass through traffic in the second, right in front of the crease, and watched the puck glide harmlessly away through traffic. Even right wing Patrick Kane had a good chance spoiled during a 2-on-1 in the second, with his wrist shot sailing wide to keep the game scoreless.

It went like that most of the night for Chicago, which gets its next chance to make amends Saturday at home against the Nashville Predators.

"Our best shots that we got, we probably had six or seven A-plus chances that [we] didn't even get a shot on net," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We were looking for a better play, a missed shot, blocked [shot] or [we were] in too tight or missed the net. So, those were the ones that didn't even add up on the score sheet as far as shots, but those were the quality chances that we missed."

Defenseman Dennis Wideman broke the scoreless tie at 11:55 of the second with his first goal, firing a point shot off a clean faceoff win by Joe Colborne that appeared to clip rookie defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk in the low slot and zip past Crawford.

It was the fifth shot of the game for the Flames, who trailed in that category by an 18-2 count after the first period, 30-3 with nine minutes left in the second and 34-8 after 40 minutes.

"It was [Hiller] in net, he was great for us," Backlund said. "[It's] another night we had great goaltending. We are fortunate to have great goaltending on this team. It's always tough when you're up 1-0 and you let one in late, but everybody kept going, kept working and believed that we could still win it. I think that's why we came out with the win."

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