The Northwest Division is one of the tightest races for the playoffs in the NHL. With two points separating four teams, Calgary began their four game roadtrip in the first place but are now teetering on the edge of a playoff position. After two disappointing losses in Atlanta and Washington, Calgary looked to begin their winning ways again in Chicago. The matinÃ©e affair started with the usual rhetoric of, “play harder, and more consistency,” but fans know by now that it means nothing until 60 minutes are done. A loss this afternoon against a team out of the playoffs and much younger would spell disaster for the club
Calgary started promising with a quick Aucoin powerplay goal. Of course, you expected a quick start since the Flames are consistent in one thing, fast starts every other game. Unfortunately, just as you thought the team was going to put things together yet another example how the entire team fails to prepare itself as a unit. Kiprusoff let in a soft short-side goal to give the home team life before the first period ended.
It usually takes the Flames 20 minutes to get into the game, which was the case again today. Calgary responded with a better effort in the second period scoring three goals and Kiprusoff making timely saves. Iginla, Huselius, and Phaneuf tallied for the Flames, taking advantage of a weak Chicago goalie (Patrick Lalime).
Calgary shut the door and kept the forecheck moving for the first five minutes but the Hawks capitalised on their only chance to draw within two. Calgary killed all momentum by taking a penalty soon after. Chicago had their chances but Calgary was able to match the onslaught. Calgary had to kill two more penalties late but the score remained the same and the Flames collected two points.
Notes: Nolan had two assists. Tanguay missed most of the first with a foot injury but returned. Nystrom played two shifts before getting punched out in a first period fight.