Jonas Hiller played out of his mind, a couple bounces went the wrong way and the Chicago Blackhawks dropped their first game of the season, 2-1, to the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night. Mikael Backlund scored the game-winning goal with 24 seconds left in overtime, negating a massive shot advantage on Chicago's end.
The Blackhawks put 50 shots on Hiller in the game, but mustered just a tipped shot goal by Andrew Shaw on the team's seventh power play in regulation. For an offense that's typically strong at converting chances, this was an opportunity to pile up goals on a tired opponent, but Hiller stepped up and the Hawks couldn't take advantage.
The final shot tally for the game, 50-18, pretty accurately reflects the direction this game went. It was pretty much all Chicago all the way, but Hiller did a strong job of limiting rebounds on long distance shots and the few breakaway chances in the game all seemed to go Calgary's way. Crawford stopped them all, but couldn't stop a pair of other shots.
Right from the beginning, Chicago was rolling in this one, racking up shots against a Hiller that quickly appeared to be zoned in. The shot advantage was 18-2, Chicago, after one period, and for the first few minutes of the second period, that domination continued. Other than a breakaway opportunity by Paul Byron, which hit iron, the Flames got nothing going in the first 20-plus minutes.
None of that mattered when Dennis Wideman was able to get free for an open slap shot on Crawford midway through the second period. Just the seventh shot of the game for the Flames, Wideman got the puck off a faceoff and immediately fired it onto goal against Crawford, who couldn't locate the shot quickly enough after being inactive most of the game.
The score was Wideman's first point of the season, and fourth career goal against the Blackhawks. The defenseman has only scored more goals against New Jersey and Toronto.
The Hawks would respond from there by continuing their generally superior play, but still couldn't get shots past Hiller in goal. Finally that seventh power play came, with Shaw tipping Patrick Sharp's blueline shot past Hiller to tie things up, but even that took a bit of good fortune, as a review of the play was inconclusive.
Things would go into overtime with that 1-1 score, but Backlund finally put things away with a wrist shot on Crawford in the final minute. It's certainly not how you want to lose a game, with the shootout just seconds away, but this just wasn't the Blackhawks' night for a number of reasons.
The team is now 2-0-1 on the year, and set to play the Predators on Saturday at the United Center. We'll see if the team can put together a better scoring performance on Pekka Rinne this weekend.