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Jokinen steps up with big game for Flames in 6-4 victory over Blackhawks

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CALGARY - Flames head coach Mike Keenan had said Olli Jokinen must develop an understanding of what playoff hockey means.

The light bulb went on over the head of the big Finn on Wednesday as Jokinen's two goals and an assist helped Calgary to a 6-4 win over Chicago, sending their Western Conference best-of-seven quarter-final series back to Chicago even at two wins apiece. Game 5 is Saturday at the United Center (9 p.m. ET) before returning to Calgary for Game 6 on Monday.

Jokinen ended a 16-game goal drought - his longest since 2002 - with his first career playoff goals. They were also his first goals at the Pengrowth Saddledome since the Flames acquired him from Phoenix at the March 3 trade deadline.

"It's nice to score, but it's much nicer to win games," said the 30-year-old Jokinen, who is playing in the post-season for the first time in his career. "It felt a lot better when we scored that fifth goal than when I scored my own goals."

Eric Nystrom scored the eventual winner at 13:04 of the third period for his second of the post-season. Flames captain Jarome Iginla also had a pair for Calgary, including the empty-netter, to go along with an assist.

Defenceman Adrian Aucoin also scored in front of a sold-out sea of 19,289 red-clad fans.

Kris Versteeg, a nominee for the NHL's rookie award this year, had a goal and two assists for Chicago. Patrick Kane, who sat out Monday's Game 3 with the flu, Sammy Pahlsson and Cam Barker also scored for the Blackhawks.

Game 4 wasn't a goaltending classic by either Miikka Kiprusoff or Chicago counterpart Nikolai Khabibulin as both gave up rebounds that led to goals. Kiprusoff made 28 saves for his second straight win, while Khabibulin turned away 22 shots.

While Khabibulin came into this series with more wins against Calgary than any other team in his career (22-5-2), the Flames got four-plus goals by the Russian for the second straight game.

"You've got to get bodies (in front of him) because he's human," Nystrom said. "He's going to make a mistake here and there and if we put more pucks on him, there's going to be more mistakes than if we don't put the pucks there."

Calgary's 4-2 win in Game 3 ended with 64 penalty minutes in the final minute because of Adam Burish's high cross-check on Calgary's Rene Bourque and the ensuing melee in front of the Chicago bench.

Punching and nasty stick work away from the play continued Wednesday and there were the requisite headlocks and face-washing around the nets after whistles.

But with the game tied 1-1 and 4-4 at period breaks, the stakes were too high for either team to lose control of their emotions.

"When the games get out of hand, you take some liberties and you see that in every series," Nystrom said. "Tonight the game was too close and a battle to the finish. It was definitely physical, there was no doubt about that."

The Blackhawks are the youngest team in the NHL and making their first post-season appearance in seven years. After opening the series with a pair of come-from-behind wins, they had hoped to be going back to Chicago in a position to take the series.

"It's going to be a long flight home tomorrow," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "It's far from over.

"It's frustrating and yes, we were up two games and you can cry about that all day about having those first two games and then letting them have the last two and letting them get back in the series.

"But we knew they weren't going anywhere so we're just going to have to battle and get momentum swinging back in our favour a little bit.

Calgary failed to protect leads in their two losses in Chicago and after scoring three times to take a 4-1 lead in the second period Wednesday, the Blackhawks answered with three of their own to pull even.

"Holy cow, protecting leads," Nystrom said. "It's amazing how it's easier to play coming from behind. Sometimes when you have a lead you sit on it a little bit, but tonight we persevered and battled hard to win this game. Now the series is zero-zero again."

As with the previous three games, the team that scored first lost.

With centre Craig Conroy suffering an undisclosed injury in the first period and not returning to the game, Jokinen's ice time on the top line between Iginla and Curtis Glencross increased.

The Flames dealt Matthew Lombardi, Brandon Prust and a conditional first-round draft pick to Phoenix to get Jokinen. Calgary took on Jokinen's US$5.25-million salary this season and $5.5 million next year with the hope he would complement Iginla on the top line.

But after scoring eight goals on the road in his first six games as a Flame, Jokinen went cold. While he didn't score in Monday's Game 3, Jokinen began throwing his six-foot-three, 215-pound frame around to create scoring chances, before breaking out in Game 4. He was also a team-best plus-four.

"He and Jarome had the most ice time as forwards for us and played exceptionally well," Keenan said.

The Flames head to Chicago with injury issues as Conroy is said to be day to day. Centre Daymond Langkow took a shot from Duncan Keith off his hand in the third period and left the game.

Bourque, who was said to be day to day after Burish broke his stick over Bourque's shoulder at the end of Game 3, participated in the pre-game skate, but was scratched from the lineup. He was replaced on the top line by Glencross.

Nystrom banged in a rebound off Cory Sarich's shot from the point for the winner. Pahlsson's shot from the point beat Kiprusoff for a power-play at 19:27 of the second period.

Pahlsson was left unchecked at the boards and he threw the puck to centre for Barker to tip in at 16:44 and atone for an earlier giveaway that led to a Calgary goal.

Kiprusoff's juicy rebound on Brian Campbell's blast from the blue-line gave Versteeg a wide-open net for a power-play goal at 12:13.

Jokinen's burst of speed from the top of the faceoff circles gave him enough room on Calgary defenceman Brent Seabrook to get a backhand shot by him and Khabibulin at 9:16.

Aucoin made it 3-1 for the Flames by threading a wrist from the point through traffic on Khabibulin at 9:10.

Jokinen's first career playoff goal was a gift as Barker whiffed on a pass from the corner. Jokinen made the most of the turnover to put Calgary up 2-1 just 56 seconds into the second period.

Mike Cammalleri circled out from the boards and tapped the puck over to Iginla, who beat Khabibulin from the faceoff circle for a power-play goal and his second of the playoffs at 5:47 of the first period.

Kane struck at 4:40. Patrick Sharp skated deep down the wing and backhanded a drop pass back to the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NHL draft in the slot. Kane beat Kiprusoff with a wrist shot.

Notes: Iginla scored his 27th and 28th career playoff goals and is one goal away from catching Theoren Fleury in third in franchise history. . . Calgary has outscored Chicago 5-2 in the first periods, but been outscored 7-4 in the second.

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