It looked like Wednesday’s game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Calgary Flames was going to head to overtime, but Patrick Kane’s second goal of the game with just 18 seconds left propelled the Hawks to a 3-2 comeback victory in the contest.
Patrick Sharp also scored for the Blackhawks, and Antti Raanta outdueled a spectacular Reto Berra as the Hawks won their fourth game in a row and guaranteed a winning circus trip.
Not surprisingly, the Blackhawks got off to a great start against a defense that is one of the weaker blue line groups in the league. They put tons of pressure on Berra in the early going, and because of their constant presence in the offensive zone, they were able to draw two power plays within the first five minutes of the game.
Unfortunately for Chicago, they weren’t able to get anything on those chances, including on a tremendous rush by Marian Hossa that saw him split the Calgary defense easily, and the score remained 0-0.
Despite the Blackhawks’ momentum in the first period, the real excitement came when Brandon Bollig dropped the mitts with Brian McGrattan in the defensive zone. Unfortunately for Bollig, things didn’t go his way in the bout, and McGrattan pummeled the Hawks’ forward with a series of right crosses that left Bollig on the losing end of the fracas.
Even with the supposed morale boost that should come with a won fight, the Flames weren’t able to do anything for the rest of the period, and the game remained scoreless after one. In all, the Blackhawks attempted 30 shots in the period, with 10 finding their way on net, and the Flames were limited to 10 shots on goal in only 13 attempts.
The second period saw more of the same, with the Hawks setting up several big possessions in the Flames zone, but despite a series of great chances for Sharp, and the Flames ended up picking up their goaltender. On a slow line change by the Blackhawks, Jiri Hudler picked up the puck along the boards, and fired a perfect pass to Matt Stajan in the middle of the ice, and his one-timer evaded Raanta to give Calgary a 1-0 lead.
That score held through the end of the period, but then the Flames struck again in the early stages of the third. On a bad defensive breakdown by the Blackhawks, several Hawks ended up committing to Hudler’s side of the ice, and no one thought to cover Sean Monahan as he entered the zone as the trailer on the play. Hudler’s pass was pitch perfect, and Monahan unleashed a wicked snipe that beat Raanta on the glove side and put Calgary in front 2-0.
As the third period wore on though, the Hawks still continued to churn away on offense, and in the end, the Flames ended up paying the price for their lack of pace control in the game. On a great rush from Brandon Saad, the Flames were slow to get back, and when Kane took a shot from near the goal line, it was Kris Russell’s poke check attempt that ended up deflecting the puck into the net, and just like that, the Hawks had been given new life and only trailed by a goal.
Just 56 seconds later, the Hawks struck again. This time, it was Hossa doing the bulk of the work again, skating around the offensive zone and getting the Flames’ defense all crossed up. Sharp took full advantage of this confusion, and hit a perfect one-timer into the wide open net past Berra to tie the game at 2-2.
It looked as though the game would go to overtime despite some great late game pressure by the Blackhawks, but Kane decided to change that. Coming off a juicy rebound from a Niklas Hjalmarsson point shot, Kane grabbed the puck in the slot and made a beautiful back-handed shot that evaded Berra with just 18 seconds left in the game to give Chicago a 3-2 advantage.
The victory was the Hawks' fourth in a row, and allowed them to keep pace with the St. Louis Blues, who won their fifth straight game on Wednesday. Chicago will next hit the ice on Friday night when they take on the Dallas Stars in the Lone Star State.