Relentless Blackhawks dominate Flames 2-0 to end two-game skid
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org March 26, 2013 11:08PM
Sophie Baron, 20, and her sister Lucy Baron, 18, (R) cheer during the pregame show prior to the Chicago Blackhawks vs. Calgary Flames NHL game Tuesday March 26, 2013 at the United Center. Lucy is a senior at Lake Forest High School and is a forward on the Lake Forest HS girls varsity hockey team that won the state championship this past weekend with a 2-0 win over Fenwick. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: April 28, 2013 7:07AM
Patrick Kane, frankly, had lost track. But he knew the number was high, and he was sure the Blackhawks’ performances the last two games — come-from-ahead losses against the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings — were the exceptions, not the rule.
‘‘We’ve been doing it all year,” Kane said after the Hawks put their foot on the Calgary Flames’ throats and cruised through an uneventful third period in a 2-0 victory Tuesday night. ‘‘We had a couple slip-ups the past couple games, but if you look at the games we won before, there were maybe 12, 13, 14, who knows, one-goal games that we won. It’s something we know we can do. We’ve just got to be confident and get the job done.’’
The Hawks are now 18-1-1 when leading after two periods (both losses came against the Ducks).
Coach Joel Quenneville wasn’t at all happy with the way his team responded to the Kings’ aggressive, physical style Monday night. But he was quite pleased with how the Hawks responded to the loss.
‘‘I liked our game tonight,’’ he said. ‘‘We talked before the game about welcoming the challenge of playing at a certain standard of how we compete, and how we play with a purpose. I thought we met the goals and objectives.’’
Ray Emery improved to 12-0-0 — extending the best start in NHL history — with a 16-save effort that was considerably easier than his last win against the Flames, a 45-save masterpiece in Calgary on Feb. 2.
The Hawks put the clamps on, allowing only three shots in the second period and seven in the third.
We got a lead early on and continued to apply pressure,” Emery said. ‘‘But we really didn’t give up much against. It was a great night defensively.’’
Of course, the Flames aren’t the Kings. Or the Ducks. Vying for second-to-last place with the Colorado Avalanche, the Flames are on the verge of being dismantled, with captain Jarome Iginla the biggest prize on the market as the April 3 trade deadline looms (and the Hawks a possible suitor).
Iginla would neither confirm nor deny after the game that he has given Flames management a list of teams he’d go to, a list that reportedly includes the Hawks.
‘‘As a group, we’ve tried not to add to all the talk,’’ Iginla said. ‘‘Unfortunately, when you’re out of the playoffs at the trade deadline, there’s a lot of talk about whatever team it is. That’s where we are now. In five or six days it’ll all work itself out.’’
Regardless, the Hawks beat the Flames the way a contender is supposed to beat a cellar-dweller.
Kane set up both goals, one by Nick Leddy in the first period and one by Brent Seabrook in the second, as the Hawks outshot the Flames 35-16. From there, the Hawks did what they had been unable to do in the losses to the Ducks and Kings: hold the lead.
‘‘We wanted to tighten up a little bit on a few things,’’ Leddy said. ‘‘And I thought we did a great job of that.’’
Even in victory, the power play continued to be a sore point for the Hawks, who didn’t score on four chances, squandering an opponent’s double-minor for the second straight game. That’s where the absence of Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp — both of whom are nearing their return, Hossa possibly by Friday, Sharp possibly by next week — has been felt the most. Against the Flames, it didn’t much matter. Against the Ducks — who come to town Friday — it very well might.
As Kane said, there’s always room to get better.
‘‘That’s one of the things we’ve been doing all year is try to get better as a team,’’ he said. ‘‘Even when we were on that long winning streak and it seemed like everything was golden in here, there were still problems we needed to fix. There still are — we’re obviously never going to be perfect. But that’s the fun part of the process is trying to improve.’’