Blackhawks 7 Flames 1
CALGARY — With a nearly unstoppable power play, the Blackhawks easily cruised to their fifth straight victory Thursday night.
Kris Versteeg scored a pair of goals as Chicago went 4-for-5 with the extra man in a 7-1 rout of the Calgary Flames.
In the battle between two hot teams that entered play with identical records, the game was decided in the second when Chicago scored five unanswered goals after Olli Jokinen’s knotted the game 1-1 just 14 seconds into the period.
“Great game across the board, I’m very happy with all aspects and areas of our game,” said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville. “Everyone contributed, a very solid team win.”
Chicago restored its lead at 2:01 when Versteeg deflected Brent Seabrook’s slapshot past Miikka Kiprusoff.
After goals from Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd put the visitors up 4-1, the Blackhawks added two more power-play goals in the final 90 seconds of the period.
Patrick Kane celebrated his 21st birthday by neatly one-timing Patrick Sharp’s pass behind Kiprusoff 21 seconds into a two-man advantage.
Thirty-six seconds later, Kane was the playmaker, zipping a hard cross-ice pass to Versteeg at the side of the net for another one-timer. Again, Kiprusoff had no chance on the tic-tac-toe passing play.
“The (power play has) been struggling a little bit this year but it’s nice to get it back on track tonight,” said Kane. “Obviously we have a lot of skill on both units so it’s good to get that going and hopefully we can keep it going.”
It was an off night for the Flames penalty kill, which had yielded just one power-play goal in its previous seven games.
“We had a lapse in the second and they capitalized on that,” said Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf. “That’s not acceptable. As a group, we have to be better, we have to play a full 60-minute game.”
Troy Brouwer and Ben Eager also scored for Chicago (13-5-2), while Duncan Keith chipped in with three assists.
Chicago has dominated play between the two teams of late. After winning all four regular-season meetings last year, the Blackhawks beat the Flames four games to two in the opening round of last year’s playoffs.
In their only meeting earlier this season, Calgary (12-6-2) jumped out to a 5-0 first-period lead, before losing 6-5 in overtime.
“There wasn’t a guy in here, every single one of us, that was nearly good enough especially in an important time of the game in the second period where we just had a meltdown,” said Flames captain Jarome Iginla.
“We’ve been doing that against this team for a while and we haven’t been good enough lately. That was embarrassing.”