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Standing Outside the Fire: Flames 5, Blackhawks 2

The Blackhawks wrapped up their four-game road trip with a loss to the Flames.

Chicago Blackhawks v Calgary Flames Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

Despite keeping the game close for most of the game on Tuesday night, an unlucky bounce late in the third period was the undoing of the Blackhawks as they lost 5-2 to the Flames.

Just over a minute into the game, Kirby Dach took offense to a hit from behind on Alex Debrincat from Blake Colman and started throwing punches:

The Flames then scored just 18 seconds after the fight concluded. Marc-André Fleury whiffed on a long snapshot from Dillon Dube — a name I refuse to believe is real — to make it 1-0 in favor of the Flames.

Brandon Hagel scored his second goal in as many games to tie the game 1-1 at the 8:57 mark. Ryan Carpenter put in the work along the boards to get the puck to Hagel.

Milan Lucic regained the lead for the Flames with 6:54 left in the first. Who even knew Lucic was still in the league?

The Blackhawks tied the game 3:51 into the second period on Reese Johnson’s first NHL goal. Jacob Markstrom made a bad pass from behind the net and good pressure from the Blackhawks saw the puck end up in the net before Markstrom could fully recover.

Unfortunately, Matthew Tkachuk broke the tie to to make it 3-2 Flames with 5:35 left in the game. He went to pass the puck to a man in front but it hit Seth Jones’s skate and ricocheted into the net.

Trevor Lewis and Johnny Gaudreau added empty-net goals in the final two minutes, as the Blackhawks lost 5-2 to the Flames.

Notes

  • Tonight was the first time since the coaching change the Blackhawks had given up a goal in the first few minutes of a period. However, the Blackhawks still did a good job of keeping the Flames to the outside a decent bit — they allowed only 3 high-danger chances against at 5-on-5 in the first.
  • The Blackhawks got better as the game went on, but they still never had more than 10 minutes — if that — where they felt like they were in control or the better team. The Flames are one of the best teams in the league in terms of shot metrics and meaningful puck possession, so this isn’t surprising, but the Blackhawks have to start getting better for longer stretches.
  • Fleury has been rock solid for the Blackhawks in recent starts, but that first goal against was a stinker. He’ll want that one back. The game felt more rocky for him in general, like he was fighting it a bit more than usual. Fleury still stopped 34 of 37 shots for a .919 save percentage, though. So even on a somewhat off-night, he was very good.
  • McCabe and Murphy had a rough game overall, which is disappointing because they’ve been the best pair for the last handful of games. McCabe started the season not looking like himself but has been much improved recently. So, especially for him, let’s hope tonight was just a one-off.
  • Hagel is on a 30-goal pace over an 82-game sample, which is double his pace from last season. He may not be able to keep that going, but it’s nice to see him cashing in on his chances, something he had difficulty with last season.
  • Give R. Johnson credit — he can score into a mostly empty net. Joking! Well, not totally, but the real credit was in the good work he did before the goal because he was the one who pressured Markstrom into making a bad pass. Mike Hardman then had good pressure to force the Flames to turn the puck over right to R. Johnson. If those two did that regularly, the complaints wouldn’t be so fervent.
  • But also just yay for first NHL goals! It looks like some friends or family got to see it too:
  • Dach was another noticeable player, and not just because of his fight. He was doing work down low and in front of the net, battling hard for pucks, and creating several good scoring chances for himself as well as setting up his linemates. In the first two periods, shots were 10-5 in favor of the Blackhawks when he was on the ice, 28-7 for the Flames when he wasn’t.
  • I still think Dach might benefit if he was split from Kane and DeBrincat so he could be the guy on a line, but this was a nice game for him. Speaking of Dach’s fight, I wasn’t the only one thinking it’s not a great idea for a guy coming off a wrist fracture with a history of concussions to be fighting, right? Love the energy, but maybe not the smartest move.
  • Toews’ goal drought to start this season is the longest in his career by a decent margin. He’s always been a slow starter, but it’s never been like this. Toews had gotten some good looks, but nothing is going in.
  • Maybe swapping Toews and Dach could benefit both guys — Toews gets to reconnect with Kane, who he had years of chemistry with, and Dach can be the primary play driver on a line where he’s not deferring as much.
  • Ending on one final positive: the Blackhawks as a whole were much cleaner with their puck management tonight than in the last couple of games. It feels like that good behavior should start to impact their puck possession in a positive way if they keep improving. Fingers crossed, anyway.

Game Charts

Three stars

  1. Rasmus Andersson (CGY) — 2 assists
  2. Reese Johnson (CHI) — 1 goal, 1 assist
  3. Matthew Tkachuk (CGY) — 1 goal

What’s next

The Blackhawks are back at the United Center to face the St. Louis Blues on Friday for a 2:30 p.m. start. And an early warning that this is another game exclusively broadcast on the streaming platforms at ESPN+ and Hulu.