Kane, Sharp score 56 seconds apart, steal 3-2 victory for Blackhawks
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter November 27, 2013 11:50PM
Updated: November 28, 2013 12:44AM
CALGARY, Alberta — Antti Raanta tried taking his typical game day nap on Wednesday afternoon, but this was no typical game day. The Blackhawks rookie was hours away from making his first NHL start in Calgary, and the inevitable nervousness manifested itself in a most unsettling fashion. The 24-year-old Finnish goaltender wound up having visions of himself in Dallas, of all places, down 3-0 in the first period.
“Nap time was pretty awful,” he said. “I was seeing some nightmares.”
The end of his first start however, was an absolute dream. The Hawks scored three times in 10 minutes, including Patrick Kane’s spectacular backhanded game-winner with 18 seconds left, to steal a 3-2 victory over the Flames and give Raanta his first NHL victory.
The Hawks trailed 2-0 midway through the third, with Reto Berra confounding the Hawks for the second time this month. But Raanta never doubted his teammates would come through eventually.
“We know that we can score goals,” he said. “Those forwards have magic hands.”
Sure enough, the Hawks caught a lucky break that sparked a dramatic comeback. Kane’s seemingly harmless flick of the puck toward the net from a sharp angle somehow found its way behind Berra to cut the Flames lead to 2-1 at 9:42 of the third. The goal also extended Kane’s point streak to a career-high 12 games.
Fifty-six seconds later, the Flames lost sight of Patrick Sharp behind the play, and he swooped in for an easy tap-in of a Marian Hossa set-up to tie the score, stunning the 19,289 in attendance at the Saddledome. .
The Hawks kept the pressure on from there, outshooting the Flames 15-2 in the third, until Kane’s backhander beat Berra with 18 seconds left.
“I was actually going to spin and try to pass it to [Andrew] Shaw backdoor, but I just tried to get one on net,” Kane said. “I didn’t even see the replay or anything, so I don’t even know how it went in. It was nice to come back like that and get a win. … We knew we had it in the locker room to come back.”
It was just another wild win in Calgary for the Hawks. The last time they were here, on Feb. 2, Hossa scored with 3.1 seconds left and the Hawks wound up winning in overtime as Ray Emery made 45 saves in one of the most memorable games of the 2013 season.
While Kane was the hero, he said Raanta was “our best player tonight, for sure, 100 percent.” He was particularly strong early on.
Raanta, who saw his first action in relief of Corey Crawford at Colorado last week, said before the game that he wanted to be sharp “straight from the first puck,” and he didn’t disappoint early.
On the first shot he saw, he turned aside a shot from Matt Stajan, who got behind the Hawks defense on a rush through the slot. Raanta later made a sharp glove save on a Lee Stempniak shot that handcuffed him a bit, and then stopped Mike Cammalleri twice on the doorstep. He closed out the period by blocking Dennis Wideman’s slap shot with his head right at the buzzer.
Raanta, who gave up a goal 83 seconds into his only preseason start at Washington, said he gained confidence from the strong start.
“The Washington game, the preseason game, was pretty awful when they scored in the first chance,” Raanta said. “So that was pretty nice to start the game like that.”
Meanwhile, the Hawks attempted 30 shots, but only 10 made it through to Berra, as the Flames blocked 10 and the Hawks missed 10 more.
Stajan was stoned again by Raanta on the doorstep early in the second, but finally gave Calgary a 1-0 lead at 13:32 of the period, one-timing a Jiri Hudler pass in the slot after Jonathan Toews was unable to clear the zone.
The Flames made it 2-0 early in the third, as the Hawks lost sight of Sean Monahan behind the rush, allowing him to rip a shot from the slot past Raanta.
“He played great,” Kane said of Raanta. “Both goals, he didn’t really have a chance on. He made numerous saves that he’s not really expected to make, but at the same time, he made them. So they were big for us.”
At this point, it seemed Berra was going to continue his perplexing dominance of the Hawks. The Flames goalie beat the Hawks in his NHL debut on Nov. 3. In his eight games since, he had given up 27 goals. But by the time Kane finally broke his spell with the fluky first goal, Berra had stopped 65 of 67 shots against the Hawks.
Kane’s first goal made sure the Hawks’ streak of regular-season games without being shut out reached 92. His second goal made sure their streak of victories hit four — and Raanta’s hit one.
“I felt good and I was enjoying the game,” Raanta said. “So that’s the big thing. And it’s a good thing also that we won the game.”