Blackhawks end two-game losing streak with 2-0 win over Flames
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org @marklazerus March 26, 2013 10:00PM
Updated: March 26, 2013 10:56PM
Patrick Kane, frankly, had lost track. But he knew the number was high, and he was sure the Blackhawks’ performance the last two games — back-to-back come-from-ahead losses against the Ducks and 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.”
This was, in fact, the Hawks’ 14th win, to go along with two regulation losses and three shootout losses, in one-goal games. And they’re now 18-1-1 when leading after two periods (both losses coming to Anaheim).
Hawks 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 victory against the Flames, a 45-save masterpiece in Calgary on Feb. 2.
The Hawks put the clamps on Calgary, 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 Colorado, 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 — with the Hawks a possible suitor.
Iginla would neither confirm nor deny after the game that he’s 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 for a rematch on 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.”