CALGARY, Alberta – There’s something about the way the Blackhawks’ backup goaltenders play in the Saddledome that always gives the team a chance.
On Friday, however, even Scott Darling’s great outing wasn’t enough to salvage two points out of the Blackhawks’ otherwise lackluster performance.
Darling stopped 35 of 37 shots and Patrick Kane extended his point streak to a career-high 15 games. But the Blackhawks lost to the Calgary Flames 2-1 in overtime. The Blackhawks have gotten points in four consecutive games and five of their last six.
Artem Anisimov scored his eighth goal of the season. Kane’s secondary assist on that goal gave him points in 15 consecutive games.
After stopping all 14 of Calgary’s shots in the third period it looked like Darling may steal another point for the Blackhawks in overtime. But Johnny Gaudreau stole the puck from Brent Seabrook and scored for the Flames, who outplayed the Blackhawks most of the night.
“We had a couple of memorable ones, Ray Emery sticks out,” coach Joel Quenneville said of backup goaltenders up here. “The third we started off all right but then they had some great rush chances late in the game. We gave the puck away four times in a short amount of time in overtime. You can’t give it away once, let alone four [times].”
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Despite another slow start and the Flames getting out to a 1-0 lead on Sean Monahan’s goal, the Blackhawks finished the first in a 1-1 tie. Anisimov’s equalizer came 13 seconds into the Blackhawks’ first power play of the night. The Flames, however, had a lot more shots – 37 to the Blackhawks’ 19 – and a lot more quality scoring opportunities.
“I don’t think we played our best game,” Duncan Keith said. “Give them credit: they came out hard and they did what they had to do to win. But, you know, we can be better.”
If not for Darling, the Blackhawks probably lose this game in regulation. From the third period on the Blackhawks were outshot 20-4; they didn’t record any shots in overtime.
“He was a big reason why we got the one point, the biggest reason why we got that one point,” Keith said. “He played great and kept us in the game.”
The Blackhawks didn’t play their best hockey in their last two games. Still, they managed three out of four points.
“It’s definitely not frustrating to get three out of four,” Darling said. “We didn’t have our best game so we can definitely improve off this game and the last game. I think we’ll be fine.”
Perhaps, but there’s no doubt the Blackhawks need to play better. The competition is going to be tougher as they go on this trip and throughout the season. Pretty good won’t be good enough.
“Coming off a win, and I didn’t like the way we played [in Edmonton],” Quenneville said. “Today’s game, I thought we were better than we were the other night but it’s still not good enough to get it done.”