The Flames moved back into a Stanley Cup Playoff spot with their second straight win, a 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks at United Center in Chicago on Tuesday.
HOME SWEET HOME-AND-HOME
After beating the Blackhawks 4-3 in overtime at Scotiabank Saddledome last Saturday, the Flames completed sweeps of their home-and-home and season series versus the Hawks.
After erasing 2-0 and 3-2 deficits in the opener in Calgary, the Flames gave up the opening goal again in Chicago. After Alex DeBrincat scored the only goal of the first period, Dougie Hamilton answered with the only tally of the second period to tie the game at one. The Flames took their first lead with just 3:30 remaining in regulation time, when Michael Stone’s shot from the right point ricocheted past Jeff Glass. The puck appeared to go off of Johnny Gaudreau’s stick, which was close to being above the crossbar.
Sean Monahan added an empty-net goal with 1:51 left in the third period, which, after Patrick Kane scored with seven seconds left, turned out to be the game-winner, his NHL-leading ninth of the season.
A LONG TIME COMING
Winners of three Stanley Cups since 2010, for the better part of the last decade, the Blackhawks have been tough to beat for almost every team in the NHL. That includes the Flames. Chicago’s 17-game overall (10-0-7) and 16-game home (13-0-3) point streaks versus Calgary were snapped on Tuesday, when the Flames beat the Blackhawks in regulation time for the first time since Feb. 3, 2012. It was the first time they’ve accomplished the feat at United Center since March 16, 2008.
While the Hawks are still competitive, they certainly aren’t the powerhouse that they used to be.
ROLLIN’ ON THE ROAD
With Tuesday’s win, the Flames improved to a very impressive 14-5-5 on the road this season. Their five regulation losses are tied for fewest in the NHL and their .687 road point percentage is second only to the Bruins’ .695.
Following Tuesday’s morning skate, a number of Flames players told me how important they believe the first game of a long road trip to be. Things do tend to snowball one way or the other on long road trips, so starting a six-game, 11-day getaway with a win should give the Flames some much-needed momentum going into Thursday’s game against New Jersey.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, I asked Blackhawks superstar Patrick Kane if he sees a little bit of himself in Flames star Johnny Gaudreau. His response: “I think he does a lot of things better than I do, actually”.
Quite a compliment from one of the NHL’s best players. One of the many things that the diminutive Americans have in common – they are both a ton of fun to watch.
TRAVEL DAY FROM HELL!
While things went well for the Flames at the arena in Chicago, getting to and through the Windy City was another story.
Following a 10 a.m. practice on Monday, the team had a noon bus to the Calgary International Airport. After going through security and customs, the Flames’ Air Canada Jetz charter was ready to depart YYC just after 1 p.m. That’s when things slowly went south.
A snow storm blew into Chicago on Monday, leading to a plethora of flight delays and cancellations at Midway and O’Hare International Airports. As a result, the pilots didn’t get clearance to take off until 4:15 p.m. MT. After arriving in Chicago, the airplane spent more than an hour in a holding pattern circling MDW before being rerouted to ORD, where it finally touched down just past 9 p.m. CT.
The Flames then spent over an hour sitting on the tarmac waiting for a gate before finally deplaning and boarding a bus. After an hour-long ride into downtown Chicago, the Flames finally arrived at their team hotel just before midnight.
As long as the day was for the coaches and players (and broadcasters), it was even longer for the equipment and medical staff, who stayed on the plane at ORD for two more hours before flying to MDW with the team’s equipment and luggage. After unloading the plane’s contents onto a bus and a truck at the airport and then unloading and setting up the equipment at the arena and the luggage at the hotel, the hard-working support staff finally called it a day at around 2:30 a.m. MT.
Thankfully, the Flames’ road trip started better on the ice than it did off!