CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks found a higher gear in the third period, and Brandon Saad helped finish off the Calgary Flames.Saad scored with 7:03 left, and the Blackhawks beat the Flames 2-1 on Sunday night for their 12th victory in the last 14 games.
After motoring past Calgary defenceman Mark Giordano, Saad took a centring pass from captain Jonathan Toews and lifted a shot past Jonas Hiller’s glove.
“That one felt good,” Saad said. “It’s a great play.”
“When you’re used to winning and you know how to win, you come ready to play in the third.”
Toews also set up Patrick Sharp’s power-play goal as the surging Blackhawks dealt the Flames their fifth straight loss. Chicago had won eight in a row before Saturday night’s 3-2 loss at the New York Islanders.
The Blackhawks stepped up their play in the final period, dominating for chunks of time and outshooting the Flames 10-5. Hiller had to be sharp to keep it close, making several tough saves.
“I thought we were OK for 40 (minutes), and then went to another level in the third,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “It was a big win for us.”
“We played the right way for most of the night and got rewarded in the end.”
The rush that led to Saad’s seventh goal started when Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau fell and lost the puck at the Flames’ blue line. Chicago defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson fed Toews, who powered down right wing before finding Saad.
“Johnny got a bad edge on his skate. It’s not a matter that he turned the puck over being careless or anything,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “It was an accident.
“Right now it seems that whenever we need a break, it’s not there. We showed up to work … but no rewards to show for it.”
Jiri Hudler had his team-leading 12th goal for Calgary, which has scored just eight times during its slide.
Sharp’s goal was his first since returning Tuesday from a knee injury that sidelined him for 14 games. Sharp, who led Chicago with 34 goals last season, has four this year – all on the power play.
Chicago’s Antti Raanta made 23 saves while subbing for Corey Crawford, who is out with a foot injury. Rookie Scott Darling had started the Blackhawks’ last four games.
Before the game, Quenneville said he expected Crawford to return next weekend. Raanta and Darling have filled in quite nicely since Crawford was hurt while leaving a concert two weeks ago.
Hiller finished with 26 saves.
“He gave us a chance to win, made some unbelievable saves at the right time,” Hartley said. “But we’re not scoring much right now, so we’re not helping our cause.”Neither team had many chances in the scoreless first period.
Hiller made a sprawling pad save on Andrew Shaw’s rebound attempt 6:15 in. Gaudreau danced down the Chicago slot with a series of nifty moves with 7:59 left, but was stopped by Raanta.
Hudler opened the scoring at 4:27 of the second when he trailed in late on a rush and was left open. Hudler took Gaudreau’s cross-ice feed and whistled it past Raanta’s glove.
Sharp’s goal at 8:43 – just nine seconds into a power play – came off a fast passing series with Kane and Toews. From below the goal line, Toews dished across the slot to Sharp, who sprinted into the left circle and ripped in a high one-timer.