Chicago power play crushes Flames
The Chicago Blackhawks couldn't have scripted a better result for their opening match in a six-game road trip.
Chicago rolled over the Flames on the strength of four power-play goals en route to a 7-1 win in Calgary on Thursday night.
Kris Versteeg had two goals and Duncan Keith added three assists as the Blackhawks (13-5-2) won their fifth in a row.
Calgary (12-6-2) will hit the road against Los Angeles on Saturday to try to end a two-game skid.
"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 opened the scoring midway through the first on their first power-play goal when Troy Brouwer was allowed three whacks on a loose puck in the crease. The third time was a charm as the puck fluttered overtop of Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff.
Calgary scored the equalizer on a power play on the first rush into the Chicago end of the ice just 14 seconds into the second period. Jarome Iginla found Olli Jokinen in the slot, where the big Finnish centre beat Cristobal Huet on the glove side with a snapshot.
That brief span was the lone bright spot in a disastrous second period for the Flames, who were lit up for five unanswered goals.
A minute and a half after Jokinen's tally, the Flames' Nigel Dawes was forced to watch from the penalty box as the Blackhawks power-play notched their second goal of the game.
Flames lit up 5 times in 2nd period
Chicago defender Brent Seabrook hit the crossbar before his second attempt was tipped home by Kris Versteeg for the go-ahead goal.
The Blackhawks increased the lead to 3-1 when Dustin Byfuglien scored the game's first even-strength goal. The rugged right wing elected to shoot on the 2-on-1 chance and beat Kiprusoff low on the blocker side.
Less than five minutes later, a bad line change by the Flames allowed Andrew Ladd to beat Kiprusoff off a virtual breakaway from the Calgary blue-line. Ladd fired a wrister low that beat the glove hand of the Finnish goalie to push the lead to three.
Another bad change by Calgary resulted in a too-many-men call and put the red-hot Blackhawks special teams back on the ice.
If that wasn't bad enough, Dion Phaneuf was tapped with a roughing call when he got into fisticuffs with Seabrook and Chicago went on to score on both the 5-on-3 and 5-on-4 advantages.
"We had a lapse in the second and they capitalized on that," Phaneuf said. "That's not acceptable. As a group, we have to be better, we have to play a full 60-minute game."
Patrick Kane scored to make it 5-1 before setting up Versteeg for his second goal of the game and send the Flames to the dressing room facing an insurmountable deficit.
"The [power play has] been struggling a little bit this year but it's nice to get it back on track tonight," Kane said. "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."
The third period was mercifully quick for Calgary, but Ben Eager added the seventh Blackhawks goal with 4:34 to go to complete the beating.