Blackhawks Go Down In Flames In Overtime

The Chicago Blackhawks erased a two-goal second period deficit, but they couldn’t quite finish the job as the Calgary Flames picked up a 5-4 overtime victory on Tuesday night.

The loss was the fourth in a row for the Blackhawks, who started out their six-game West Coast road trip on a sour note. Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, and Ben Smith scored for the Hawks, but Antti Raanta was pulled after surrendering four goals on just 15 shots, and Corey Crawford was the tough luck loser after TJ Brodie scored 2:26 into overtime.

Things did not get off to a good start for the Blackhawks as they fell behind after just 73 seconds. After a bad pass by Duncan Keith was intercepted by Lee Stempniak, the puck found its way onto Mikael Backlund’s stick, who put it past Raanta and gave the Flames a 1-0 lead.

Undeterred, the Blackhawks seemed to absorb the punch and come back with even greater force, tying the game up a little more than four minutes later. After Keith kept the puck in the zone on a clearing attempt, it eventually found its way behind the net to Kris Versteeg. With a nifty back-handed pass, he found Kane in front of the net, who roofed a shot over Reto Berra’s left shoulder, tying the game at 1-1.

A short time later, the Blackhawks had their first heart-stopping moment of the night after Brandon Pirri took a shot off his right leg off the stick of Flames winger Brian McGrattan. Pirri limped off the ice and was helped to the Hawks’ dressing room, but fans and teammates alike were able to breathe a sigh of relief when he came back on the ice.

Those sighs of relief turned to groans a few minutes later when the Flames scored again. This time, it was Lance Bouma doing the honors, as his shot from the slot was awkwardly fought off by Raanta. The puck ended up hitting the ice in the blue paint, and backspun into the net to give Calgary a 2-1 advantage.

Raanta had to recover quickly from the goal as the Flames kept pressing. Their best chance of the ensuing sequence came when winger Ben Street received a pass from behind the net, and fired a quick wrister on net. Raanta was up to the challenge on that one though, sliding across the crease to center up the shooter perfectly, keeping the deficit at one goal.

That stop seemed to reinvigorate the Blackhawks, and they tied the game in the late stages of the period. Jonathan Toews got things started with a nifty bit of skating, moving backwards towards the net to protect the puck and then wheeling around to get a quality scoring chance. Berra made the initial stop, but both Hossa and Patrick Sharp were right there on the doorstep, and Hossa’s stick was the one that propelled the puck into the empty cage, tying the game at 2-2.

The second heart-stopping moment for Hawks fans came as the second period got underway, with Hossa being unaccounted for when the puck dropped. Fortunately for Chicago's chances, it seemed to be an equipment issue, as Hossa emerged from the dressing room just a few minutes into the stanza. 

Unfortunately, that was the lone bright spot early in the period for the Blackhawks as the Flames scored to take the lead back. After an offensive zone turnover led to an odd man rush, Bryan Bickell ended up falling in the neutral zone to spring a 2-on-1 rush. Brent Seabrook then tried to dive to shut down the passing lane, but he was unable to stop the feed from David Jones to Matt Stajan, who went five-hole on Raanta and put Calgary up 3-2.

It appeared that the Blackhawks got the goal back just a few minutes later, but it was not to be. Marcus Kruger grabbed the puck behind the Flames’ net, and attempted to stuff in a wraparound attempt. Berra managed to get his skate on the puck, and just as Kruger was able to pry the puck loose and push it into the net, the official’s whistle blew, and the Hawks were unable to tie things up.

About halfway through the second period, the Flames extended their lead. With the Blackhawks on the power play, Mark Giordano broke up a pass at the top of the zone, and the Flames got a 3-on-1 rush going the other way. Stempniak’s shot was stopped by Raanta, but Backlund was able to score his second goal of the game off the rebound, and Raanta’s night came to an end with the Flames grabbing a 4-2 lead.

Less than three minutes later, the Hawks showed some signs of life with a bit of a cheap goal. On the rush, Brandon Bollig pushed the puck up to Smith, who unleashed a wrister from just inside the blue line. On a play similar to what Raanta had done earlier in the game, Berra tried to glove the shot, but it popped out and rolled into the net, and all of the sudden the Hawks were right back in the game down 4-3.

The Blackhawks continued to pound away throughout the late stages of the second, and they were finally able to tie things up with less than three minutes left. This time, it was Hossa’s turn to score a shorthanded goal, as he corralled a rebound off a great shot from the point by Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Hossa popped the puck into the net to tie things up at 4-4.

The third period saw precious few chances for either team, but the Blackhawks led the way for the most part. Keith had an excellent opportunity from the point, but he wasn’t able to bury the shot thanks to a great save by Karri Ramo. Sharp also had another chance to get back the goal that Hossa had stolen from him in the first period, but his shot off a great feed from Toews skittered just wide of the net.

Finally, Versteeg and Kane nearly combined on a pretty goal in the late stages of the frame, with the puck dropping into the crease after a save by Ramo. Both players took whacks at the puck, but were unable to pop it home, and the game went to overtime.

As soon as the puck dropped for 4-on-4 action in the extra frame, it was all Flames. The Blackhawks looked tentative with the puck, and the Flames kept pressing the issue until finally they were able to get the winning goal from Brodie about halfway through the extra frame.

The Blackhawks will have an opportunity to bounce back on Wednesday night when they take on the Vancouver Canucks.

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