Here’s the sixth entry of our 10-week Throwback Thursday series, counting down to the Hawks’ home opener on Thursday, October 5. Today, it’s the wonderful 2012-13 season, which got a stellar performance early in the season from backup goaltender Ray Emery.
I didn’t know too much about Ray Emery when the Blackhawks signed him in October 2011. I faintly remembered a strong playoff run with the Ottawa Senators in the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs. My most vivid memory of him was being challenged to a fight by then-Buffalo Sabres goalie Martin Biron. As Biron skated towards Emery to start their fight, the camera caught Emery’s reaction. He was laughing. (Protip: if you challenge someone to a fight and they start laughing, you do not want that fight.) I had a feeling I was going to like Emery after that, so I was excited to see him get a shot with the Blackhawks.
Emery’s career nearly ended a few years before that
In 2010, he was diagnosed with Avascular necrosis, the same ailment that ended Bo Jackson’s football career. But advances in technology meant that Emery was able to receive the necessary medical procedures that allowed him back into the league and he was in his second season with the Hawks when he made a start against the Calgary Flames on February 2.
That season is remembered for two things: the insane streak of 24 straight games without a regulation loss in the first half of the lockout-shortened season and the Hawks ending the season with two goals in 17 seconds to beat the Boston Bruins for the Stanley Cup. But that aforementioned streak did not deserve to get past the Hawks’ ninth game of the season. Emery, pretty much by himself, ensured it did.
The Hawks had nothing that night
They were playing their third game in four nights and second in a row, having lost 2-1 in a shootout in Vancouver the night before. For the first two periods, the Hawks just tried to keep pace with the Flames, who were wearing their excellent throwback uniforms as indicated in the main photo.
After two periods, neither team had scored, although Calgary was out-shooting the Hawks 20-12. Emery did stop Jarome Iginla early in the second period, and you can hear Steve Konroyd hint at how strong Emery had already been playing that night:
Then, in the third period, things got really weird.
The Hawks actually scored first, with Patrick Kane netting a rebound just four minutes into the period to put Chicago up 1-0. And that’s when the onslaught began. Calgary had 24 shots on goal in the third period — TWENTY-FOUR SHOTS ON GOAL. The Flames seemed like they were going to be shutout, though, with Emery denying chance after chance after chance after chance after chance after chance.
With about 6:30 to go, though, a shorthanded Chicago team let the Flames pass the puck twice through all four PKers, resulting in Calgary’s first goal of the game. Calgary continued to push from there and appeared to have sealed a win when Jay Bouwmeester scored on a 3-on-2 with 34.2 seconds remaining.
But the first of many magical moments that season came about 30 seconds later, when Marian Hossa got control of a loose puck and roofed it over a sprawling Mikka Kiprusoff to tie the game at two with two seconds left:
No one scored in overtime, leading to a shootout. After a scoreless first round, Kane worked around a Kiprusoff poke check to give the Hawks a 1-0 shootout lead.
Emery took over from there, stifling all three Calgary attempts to cement the victory in a game where the Hawks were horribly outshot, outchanced, and outplayed. Just scroll ahead to the 5:15 mark of the above YouTube video to listen to Pat Foley wax poetically about Emery’s dazzling performance that evening.
Chicago finished the game with 19 shots on goal. Calgary had 47 — FORTY-SEVEN SHOTS ON GOAL — and 45 of them were stopped by Emery, not including his three saves in the shootout.
And there were a lot more special moments to follow that season.