Flames Fall to Hawks

Wounded Road Squad Comes Up Empty    

January 8th, 2004

Too many fallen soldiers by the side of the road.

Too few to continue the march?

Calgary Flames came up short in their bid to tie a 15 year-old club record of seven straight wins on the road, running out of gas in a lightly fought 3-1 loss last night in Chicago.

Already missing two starting goaltenders, three quality centres and a rookie right wing, the Flames lost rushing defenceman Andrew Ference in the first period last night, just one more casualty in the seemingly endless 82 game trudge to the playoffs.

Perhaps that's too many now, the entire world wondering how long the Flames can keep their excellence flowing while they wait interminably for the wounded to return.

The injury free status of Calgary's defencemen had been the one blessing in all this, a saving grace along with the adequate netminding of ill-considered Jamie McLennan.

Yet the story in this game might be another man lost, a defenceman this time and one of coach Darryl Sutter's prized rushing backliners, the type who help create Calgary's speed game which has proven so effective this season.

Even on this night the Flames surrendered only two goals (before an empty net marker), giving themselves a chance to win yet again . . . . but the energy level wasn't there to take it to a Hawks team that had played in another city only the night before while the Flames watched the game in Chicago.

"I think maybe we underestimated them a little bit," said Flames forward Josh Green on FAN960 after the game. "We're disappointed with the effort here tonight. We didn't work as hard as we did in New York in those two games and as a result we didn't get the two points."

Steve Sullivan was able to dribble a Bryan Berard rebound past McLennan on a Chicago powerplay at 2:34 of the third period, giving the Hawks the win.

Oleg Saprykin had opened scoring on a Flames power play, directing Robyn Regehr's point shot, which had already ricocheted off Jarome Iginla, past Hawks starter Michael Leighton at 4:54 of the first period.

Hawks tied it at 16:50 of the same period when diminutive Kyle Calder stole around a sleeping Toni Lydman to beat McLennan and tie the game.

The loss left the Flames with two wins against a single loss on their most recent foray away from the Saddledome, a successful road trip if you're counting the percentages but an opportunity lost if you figured Chicago, one of the worst teams in the NHL, might have been the easy mark, particularly after they were hammered 7-4 the evening before in Minnesota.

The Flames drop to 21-13-3-3 on the season, leaving them with 48 points and sixth spot in the NHL's tough Western Conference.

Calgary is four points ahead of Dallas and Nashville and five up on LA and Phoenix for the eighth and final playoff spot.

Flames are three points behind Colorado for fifth spot.

Leighton stopped 28 Calgary shots while McLennan halted 23 in his fifth straight start for the Flames.

Calgary was one for seven on the power play, including a zero on a lengthy two man advantage late in the second period. Hawks were one for four on the power play.

Next up is Florida at the Saddledome on Saturday night.





1) Michael Leighton - Surrendered six goals in a loss in Minnesota only the night before, but good enough this night to hold the Flames to only a single power play goal.

2) Kyle Calder - Little spitfire gave the Hawks life with a goal late in the first period.

3) Jarome Iginla - One of the few Flames playing an involved game.

Fed the puck in the slot after a Shean Donovan steal, a rusty Steve Reinprecht might have bided his time instead of hurrying a shot that could have given the Flames a 2-0 edge, instead smothered by Leighton.

The Flames have managed to keep their prized defence corp relatively healthy this season but Andrew Ference failed to emerge intact from a corner collision at the end of the first period.

Shean Donovan hasn't scored in 12 games . . . . . It would be easy to say Saprykin's opening goal early in the first period silenced the Chicago crowd except only 10,865 were there . . . . . Flames had entered the game 5-0-1 in their last six games against the Hawks . . . . Flames are 10-6-0-2 on the road. . . . . . With Ference cratering, Jordan Leopold picked up the slack, leading the Flames with 26:39 in in ice time. Stephane Robidas led the Hawks 26:42 in ice time . . . . .Flames were 49% in the faceoff circle, led by 66% from Dean McAmmond. Tyler Arnason and Scott Nichol were 60% for the Hawks. . . . . . Jarome Iginla picked up seven points in the three road games.

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