Ray Emery has just focused on improving his game in his short time with the Chicago Blackhawks. And on Friday, it culminated in his best game this season.
Emery stopped 24 of 25 and Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook scored their first goals of the season as the Blackhawks beat the Calgary Flames 4-1.
The victory was the Blackhawks second in as many nights; it was also their seventh consecutive victory over the Flames at the United Center.
Emery was solid from start to finish, denying the Flames early when the Blackhawks, who played last night in Columbus, were committing some early mistakes. One of his biggest stops came on a Curtis Glencross breakaway, when the Blackhawks were holding a 2-0 lead in the second period.
We were joking with him; we thought hed be one of the stars of the game. We definitely thought he deserved it, captain Jonathan Toews said. But he stepped in there when we needed him to. He was a big help in the win tonight.
Emery said hes felt better as the season has gone on.
You want to get more comfortable in there and Im definitely working on things, said Emery, who wasnt upset when Olli Jokinens third-period goal denied him the shutout. You just want to win and they buzzed around a bit from the start. Its good when you get the early lead. You just want to keep the lead and limit the other teams chances.
Viktor Stalberg also scored for the Blackhawks; Patrick Kane added an empty-net goal with 3.4 seconds remaining in the third. Patrick Sharp had three assists and Marian Hossa had two.
Emery did his job in net, and once again the Blackhawks defensemen did theirs on the score sheet. Keith, playing in his 500th career NHL game, gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead midway through the first period. Seabrook added his, a power-play goal from the blue line, in the second.
Blackhawks defensemen now have 10 points in the last two games.
I think thats part of our game that needs to be there, Keith said. Its nice to get points and things like that, but the main thing is keeping plays alive, having good gaps and supporting our forwards.
The Blackhawks are back on the winning side. Theyre back atop the Western Conference standings and theyre getting that team game they know they need.
I thought that the whole team played great tonight, really fast paced out there on both sides, Keith said. It was nice to get the first (goal) and gather the momentum.