CALGARY, ALBERTA.: FEBRUARY 02, 2013 — Calgary Flames Tim Jackman, right and Chicago Blackhawks Brandon Bollig fight during their game at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta on February 2, 2013.
Photograph by: Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald
They were left shaking their heads. Cursing their fate. Demanding justice.
“I’m not sure we’re going to get much sleep tonight,” murmured Alex Tanguay. “The way we played doesn’t show on the scoresheet.
“We didn’t win the game. It’s certainly frustrating. If we duplicate that in the next few games, I can’t see how we’re not going to find ways to win.”
So much better for so much of this night, the Calgary Flames were nonetheless beaten 3-2 in a shootout by the dog-tired Chicago Blackhawks in a wildly entertaining game at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday.
Calgary dominated shots and chances.
But they couldn’t dominate Hawks’ goaltender Ray Emery.
The slick Patrick Kane, with a cheeky little shot between the feet of Miikka Kiprusoff, counted the decider in the shootout, after Jonathan Toews had been stymied by the Flames’ netminder.
Meanwhile, Tanguay, Jiri Hudler and, finally, Roman Cervenka, were all being thwarted by the magnificent Mr. Emery.
An amazing evening of entertainment.
The final minute was worth the price of admission in itself. Rallying from a goal down, defenceman Jay Bouwmeester slotted home a Jiri Hudler pass with 34.4 seconds provide the Flames with a 2-1 lead that seemed as safe as babe in its mother’s arms in church.
But, whoa!, not so fast.
The Hawks had some dramatics of their own left. With only 2.1 seconds remaining, Marian Hossa slapped a puck out of the air and behind Miikka Kiprusoff to send the game into overtime.
During that five-minute extra frame, the homesteaders were handed another power play, this one a 4-on-3, and swarmed around Emery like a pack of rabid dogs. But, somehow, couldn’t find one more breakthrough.
Through the 65 minutes, Calgary outshot Chicago 47-19.
“It’s beyond frustrating,” said Tanguay. “We take the lead with, what, 34 seconds left? And they score with two or three seconds (left) ... what do you say? What do you do? Then in overtime we get a power play and we had great looks. I had a shot, I was hoping to go top glove, I knew he wasn’t looking and I didn’t get anything on it.
“Then in the shootout, it is a crapshoot.
“It’s a coin toss. Seems like the coin’s bound to flip our way soon. Hopefully next game.
“Backlund had an empty net. Glencross had an empty net. I had a breakaway in the third period where I’ve just got to get it over his pad and it hopped over my stick.
“Tons of chances. Cammy hit the post. Iggy got five great shots from the slot. I mean, what else can you ask for?”
So the Flames conclude a vital five-out-of-six-at-home opening to the season at a disappointing 1-3-2. Calgary now heads out for road dates in Detroit on Tuesday, Denver 48 hours later and then Vancouver on Saturday.
Without a quick turn in fortune, despite their performance against the now 7-0-2 Hawks, this could get real ugly real quick.
For the longest time Saturday, it seemed they’d come up empty, without so much as a single point, again. Then, at 11:40, following another furious flurry, Chicago D-man Duncan Keith was incarcerated for dislodging the net. And, finally, the visitors’ resolve cracked, Dennis Wideman’s searching pass glancing off the right skate of defenceman Brent Seabrook and in to tie the count 1-1.
On the play, Tanguay collected his 500th career assist.
For most of the evening, and especially through the frantic closing stanza, the road-weary Hawks were surviving on their wiles. Quick sticks by Kane and Jonathan Toews barely cut off passes tight to the Chicago net that had Goal labelled all over them early in the period. Warning signs were everywhere.
Then, two minutes in, Curtis Glencross was sprung free, only to see a wicked wrist shot spit back off the underside of the crossbar.
That bit of bad fortunate would come back to bite the Flames in the backside.
Because just a couple minutes later, Hawks’ right winger Patrick Sharp swung out from behind the net and whistled a high shot that Kiprusoff managed to shrug off. But the opportunistic imp, Kane, with one wave his magic wand, made, whacking at an inviting rebound Although Kiprusoff managed to get a piece of the shot, the puck had enough steam to drop down and cross the goal-line.
At that stage, the Flames had a 2-to-1 shot advantage, 24-12.
Calgary continued to surge relentlessly forward, only to be foiled time and again by Emery. Agonizingly, Glencross missed again, skimming the outside of a post with an opening cage facing him.
The Hawks, playing their seventh road game in nine starts, appeared a trifle ragged, understandably, while the Flames tightened up considerably defensively in the wake of an error-prone performance Thursday, a 6-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
“We’ve said it all along, that we feel we’re a better team,” said Tanguay. “Tonight we showed it. Thursday you can say we’re sloppy and still should’ve found a way to win. Tonight was a great effort.”
Nothing to choose between the sides through two periods, although Bob Hartley’s crew could feel slightly aggrieved at having generated more of the memorable scoring chances.
Kiprusoff, under fire (not as much from opposing shooters, as from critics for his sub-par start to the season), didn’t have much to occupy him through a Calgary-controlled first period, and only had 12 shots to beat back through 40 minutes. Memorably, though, he stood his ground on a clear-cut Marian Hossa breakaway cannon, defenceman T.J. Brodie unable to bring a skipping puck under control, and then had the presence of mind to flop over and smother further danger.
Not to be outdone, in short order Emery produced breakaway theft of his own, closing the double-doors on the goal-parched Iginla, sprung because of horrible mis-communication between Hossa and Duncan Keith at the Calgary blueline.
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