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Toews, Blackhawks comeback for 3-2 win

by Brett Ballantini

Brett Ballantini | Correspondent

– Finish what you start.
If the Calgary Flames could adhere to that adage, they'd be returning to the Saddledome up 2-0 in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Chicago Blackhawks instead of heading home in danger of being swept after a pair of come-from-ahead losses.
Following a thoroughly dominant first period that saw the Flames sprint to a 2-0 lead on goals by Jarome Iginla and Adrian Aucoin, the Blackhawks roared back with three goals in the second period for a 3-2 victory Saturday night.
Hawks captain Jonathan Toews scored the first two postseason goals of his career -- both of them big. His power-play goal 46 seconds into the period gave Chicago some life, and his rebound goal with 24 seconds remaining put the Hawks ahead to stay.
"We got out slow, like we did last game, but by the second, we had our legs under us and a lot more confidence," Toews said. "Even down two goals, we’re the kind of team that’s just going to stick with it."
Flames coach Mike Keenan said the bigger of Toews' two goals was the first one, because it changed the game's momentum.
"We killed half of [Jordan] Leopold’s penalty to end the first," he said. "Just snuffed it. We were in complete control of the game, and I could sense [the Blackhawks] were a little disheartened. Then to come out to start the second and surrender one so fast, it restored momentum to that side."
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville agreed that Toews goal, a white-hot wrist shot into a wide-open right side of the net after a perfect feed by Patrick Sharp, was huge.

"Down 2-0 in your own building is not anything you are looking for," Quenneville said. "I liked the way we battled back. ... After the first period we weren't happy. We knew we had a power play in our back pocket. That was pivotal for us. We got some huge momentum off that."

They rode that momentum to a pair of picturesque goals -- and a victory.

Patrick Kane's slick pass set up Sharp for the tying goal at 13:36. Toews then gave the Hawks the lead when he hammered home the rebound of a slap shot by Dave Bolland after an excellent rush.

"All three of those goals were spectacular,” he said.

More impressive to Quenneville was how his club fought back against a Flames team that has set the tone and controlled the game early in both contests in the series so far.
"I like the way we battled back," Quenneville said. "We started better tonight than in Game 1, but still, we were on our heels again."
Nikolai Khabibulin allowed the two first-period goals but was flawless over the final 40 minutes, finishing with 30 saves.

"He was the key factor in the game," Iginla said. "We did what we thought we needed to. He just stepped it up and stopped us."
Khabibulin earned his 33rd career playoff win. He's 10-1-1 in his past 12 games, dating back to the regular season.
The Flames were 0-for-43 on the power play over their final 10 regular-season games and 0-for-3 in Game 1 before Iginla banged in a rebound 7:44 into the game. Ex-Blackhawk Aucoin shoveled a loose puck into the net off Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith at 16:15, quieting the crowd a bit.
But Aucoin knew the game wasn't over yet.
"We know these guys are tough," he said. "We just didn’t think the game could turn so quickly, and decisively. It’s like we blinked and the crowd was going bananas [with Chicago up 3-2]."
For the second time in three nights, the Flames couldn't keep the lead.

"We didn't make plays on the puck and we were getting pushed off it. That's unacceptable," Iginla said. "Nobody's happy here. We know we let not only one game, but two games slip away and we'll see what we can do and what we're capable of."

The Flames can only hope to get the same kind of boost from their fans when the series moves to Calgary on Monday.

"They accomplished what they needed to accomplish, held serve in the series," Keenan said. "We’ll be back in front of our home crowd, bolstering us. Hopefully we can sustain our fast starts deeper into the game and get back here in a week, all even."


A potential period-saving power play for the Blackhawks at the end of the first period was snuffed with some outstanding play from defenseman Adrian Aucoin, forward Eric Nystrom and center Dustin Boyd. Chicago spent the final minute of the period in the Calgary zone, but the Flames collapsed back and refused to allow Chicago as much as a shot on goal.

Dustin Byfuglien was one of the most energetic Hawks through Chicago's lackluster first period and a half, providing solid hits, crisp outlet passes and thundering sprints to save icing.

Jarome Iginla is better known for his work inside the opposite blue line, but his fresh legs and quick stick stymied a number of Hawks rallies with a harassing press. His inspired play on both sides of the red line was a key to Calgary’s early advantage.

Jonathan Toews' first two career postseason goals helped turn the game around as the Hawks overcame a 2-0 deficit by scoring three times in the second period. The first goal was a nifty wrister that beat Kiprusoff from the lower right circle for a power-play goal. The second, at 19:36, was a super-quick rebound tip that proved to be the game-winner.

Duncan Keith is both Chicago’s best quarterback and a big minute-muncher. He was tops in ice time in Game 1, and his 25:52 on ice in Game 2 was second only to teammate Brent Seabrook. Though he didn't get an assist, Keith also helped trigger the rush that led to Toews' game-winning goal.

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