Getting hot at Hawks' expense

Tribune staff reporter

In a young season that already has had its share of ugly losses, the one Wednesday night might have cracked a mirror.

"It's probably one of the ugliest I've played in," Blackhawks defenseman Jon Klemm said of the unsightly 6-2 defeat to the Calgary Flames.

This is the same Calgary team that was scoring barely two goals a game and came into the contest with a league-low 24 goals.

Rookie Matthew Lombardi had the kind of game the Hawks wish one of their rookie forwards would have, posting a hat trick and assist. His four points nearly matched the five points he had in his previous 12 games.

It's one thing to be outclassed by Colorado or Detroit, but Calgary? The Flames came into Chicago Wednesday and pushed the Hawks around, playing the entire 60 minutes on their terms while the Hawks went along for the ride, much to the dismay of the sparse announced crowd of 11,988 at the United Center.

"We have to be better than that," Kyle Calder said.

Better against a team that entered the game tied with Nashville for last place in the West with only 11 points.

"There are nights when some guys don't have it," Klemm said. "I've never seen 20 guys not have it."

It seems very long ago when the Hawks completed a weekend sweep of St. Louis and Anaheim and stuck their chests out while sitting with the big boys of the Western Conference.

After jumping on Colorado in the first two periods Sunday, it looked as though their place among the elite was justified. But since then, they have been outscored 12-2 and look very fragile.

"All you need is one guy not doing the job and everything else breaks down," coach Brian Sutter said. "On two goals, we had the puck on our stick and it ended up in our net two seconds later."

That would be the times in which Klemm and Steve Poapst couldn't clear the puck out of the zone.

One other goal came when Bryan Berard—minus-3 on the night—had his shot blocked and was caught too deep. Calgary had a 3-on-1 going the other way that resulted in a Chris Clark goal.

That score made it 2-0, but Brett McLean ended the team's scoreless drought, which had stretched 102 minutes 5 seconds, and it looked like the Hawks might climb back into the game. But two goals in 1:26 snuffed out any chance.

Michael Leighton, making his third straight start with Jocelyn Thibault nursing an ailing hip, was spared further insult after former Hawk Dean McAmmond scored his second goal of the night at 8:59 of the second to make it 5-1. Sutter pulled Leighton for Craig Anderson, making his season debut.

"The players should get up and thank [Leighton] for playing," Sutter said.

Anderson surrendered Lombardi's third goal while the Flames were short-handed—the ultimate instance of outworking an opponent.

"If we get outworked," Klemm said, "we don't have a chance to win."

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