By Chris Kuc
1:22 AM EDT, April 21, 2009
After rallying for victories in the first two games of the Western Conference quarterfinals, the Blackhawks couldn't rekindle the magic in Game 3 as the Calgary Flames stepped on the gas after taking a second-period lead and went on to a 4-2 victory at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
Patrick Sharp gave the Hawks an early opening-period lead but the Flames reeled off four scores in a row--two by David Moss--and Miikka Kiprusoff was strong in goal to cut the Hawks' lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1 with Game 4 on Wednesday night in Calgary. It was the Flames' first win this season in seven tries over the Hawks, who were without star winger Patrick Kane (flu).
"We started off really well," Hawks winger Ben Eager said. "We had our chances. [Kiprusoff] played well. We didn't expect to sweep these guys. It's going to be a long series, it's going to be a tough series and that's what it was [Monday night]."
Despite a roaring crowd awash in a sea of red and near-ear-splitting decibels, the young Hawks kept their composure and came out of the gate strong against the more battled-tested Flames.
Sharp's power-play goal just 2 minutes 3 seconds in the contest again proved the Hawks weren't going to be intimidated by cheers, jeers or hard hits. But after Eric Nystrom tied the score at 1-1 to end the first, the Flames began to take over and when Rene Bourque gave Calgary a 2-1 lead late in the second, the Hawks were playing catch-up the rest of the way.
"It was tough to go down 2-1 there at the end of the second period," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "It could have been a bit of a snow-ball effect. There were a lot of mistakes defensively. Our back pressure and back-checking checking wasn't good enough. They're a team that likes to play on the rush so we have to worry about that a little bit more."
Moss' goal 1:18 into the third gave the Flames a 3-1 lead. The winger fired in a rebound of an Adam Pardy shot past Nikolai Khabibulin from between the circles. Moss made it 4-1 just less than four minutes later when a Curtis Glencross shot bounced off Moss' skate and into the net.
Martin Havlat cut the deficit to 4-2 after tapping in a centering pass from Sharp from near the left post with 4:25 remaining.
"The start was definitely a focus of ours and we were able to get that first goal and not much after that," Sharp said. "We were generating a few pucks on net. Kiprusoff played well but we didn't come out in the third period the way we needed to and it resulted in a loss."
The end of the game got a bit chippy as an incident with 57 seconds remaining resulted in 64 minutes in penalties, including 38 by the Hawks.
"It was the third game in a row against these guys," Sharp said. "Both sides are starting to dislike each other. [Monday night] was the feistiest game we had all series and we expect it to get worse as we go along here. Two teams both want to win and don't like each other and that's going to happen in a series."
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