Havlat sinks Flames in OT
A turnover in the neutral zone led to Martin Havlat's second goal of the game just 12 seconds into overtime, as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Calgary Flames 3-2 on Thursday in the opening game of their first-round playoff series.
Calgary appeared headed for a Game 1 victory when Mike Cammalleri scored at 3:54 of the third period, converting a perfect saucer pass from Daymond Langkow on a two-on-one.
But after taking a 2-1 lead, the Flames started to go into a defensive shell, abandoning their aggressive forecheck, which had yielded success in the first two periods.
The Blackhawks began pressing as the third period wore on, looking for the equalizer. They created most of their scoring chances in the third period, outshooting the Flames 12-5 in the final frame.
"We established a pretty good road game to start with," Flames head coach Mike Keenan said. "But we couldn't sustain it in the third period when it was most necessary. And to win on the road, you have to be able to push back when there is a momentum."
"It was a very exciting game," Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we got better as the game went on. Certainly we were fortunate to get the equalizer when we did."
Chicago's persistence led to Havlat's tying goal at 14:27 of the third. Havlat scored from close range after recovering his own rebound.
"[Havlat] gathered the rebound in a tight area, made a nice second effort and a great shot," Quenneville said.
David Moss opened the scoring for the Flames in the first period, after Curtis Glencross fired the puck at the net from the half boards. Cam Barker tied it for the Blackhawks in the second period, when Jonathan Toews won a battle in the corner and passed the puck out front.
Kiprusoff shines in loss
If there were questions about Calgary's goaltending heading into the series, Miikka Kiprusoff did his best to silence the critics, making 25 saves, including several spectacular stops. He was brilliant in the third period, turning away some of Chicago's top scorers with a quick glove hand and good positioning.
Kiprusoff made two great saves in the final minute of the third, stopping Patrick Kane and then Dave Bolland with just 10 seconds left to preserve the tie and give the Flames a shot in overtime.
But a sloppy play by Calgary defenceman Dion Phaneuf led to Havlat's game winner, mere seconds after the opening faceoff of overtime. Dave Bolland set up the winning goal, waiting for forward Andrew Ladd to crash the net before feeding Havlat between faceoff circles.
It was the third-fastest overtime winner in Stanley Cup playoff history.
Montreal's Brian Skrudland scored nine seconds into overtime against Calgary in 1986. J.P. Parise of the New York Islanders scored in 11 seconds of OT against the Rangers in 1975, and Chicago's Pit Martin also scored at 12 seconds in 1972 against Pittsburgh.
Kiprusoff had no chance on Havlat's winner as Ladd and Jordan Leopold, his own defenceman, came barrelling into the crease.
"There will be a debate about goalie interference," Keenan said. "I believe it was Ladd who did not try to stop his movement toward the net and that's goaltender interference."
"It's a good plan if you can get away with it, and so far they have."
No power in Calgary powerplay
Although the Flames generated plenty of chances and outshot the Blackhawks 21-15 in the first two periods, Calgary failed to take advantage of its powerplay chances, going 0 for 3 on the night, making the team 0 for 46 in its past 11 games with the man-advantage.
The Blackhawks, making their first playoff appearance since 2002, have only 10 players with post-season experience and it took a while for them to adjust.
"It was the first playoff game for many of our players," Quenneville said. "With that comes jitters and excitement sometimes. But we picked up the pace as the game progressed and got better."
Chicago goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin — who has a 22-5-2 regular-season record against the Flames and beat them in the 2004 Stanley Cup finals while with Tampa Bay — made 23 stops.
Game two is set for Saturday night at 9 p.m ET at the United Centre in Chicago.
With files from the Associated Press