Crash Down to Earth at United Center
If the Flames needed a reminder of what
life used to be like before they were number one, last night's dust-off
at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks should have been enough.
A Hawk goal on the first chance of the
game, two goals on the first three shots, penalty trouble that gave the
opposition an early lead and, the clincher, the best hit of the game
when two Flames rubbed each other out.
It was a long night in a 6-3 Flames loss,
dropping Calgary to 7-2-0-1.
Alexei Zhamnov, putting lie to the
disbelievers, appears to have arisen from a multi-year slumber,
registering a goal and two assists for an early season 100 point pace.
While you can't put this one completely
at the feet of starter Mike Vernon, the Flames appeared to be a
different team when the customary big saves, so prevalent with Roman
Turek between the pipes, failed to materialize early on.
With Toni Lydman penalized in the opening
minute, the Hawks jumped to an early 1-0 lead when Kyle Calder batted a
flying rebound past Vernon only 1:17 in.
Zhamnov added to the lead before Vernon
had a chance to blink at 4:27 on yet another Lydman induced power-play.
Jarome Iginla scored in the final second
of the first period to bring the count to 2-1 Hawks, banging a slapper
past Chicago goaltender Jocelyn Thibault from the right faceoff dot.
From there it was all Hawks as first Tony
Amonte and then Mark Bell took advantage of Flames mistakes for a 4-1
Hawk lead by the time the second had ended.
Vernon had allowed four goals on only 19
shots through 40 minutes and six goals on 29 shots overall. The Flames
directed 29 shots on Thibault as well.
Eric Daze added to the lead after running
through a disinterested Igor Kravchuk early in the third. Seconds later
Calder with his second bumped the lead to 6-1.
Craig Berube added a couple of
meaningless, yet pretty goals later in the third with the Hawks having
the contest well in hand.
Iginla now has 13 points in his first 10
After a huge, hard fought, win in St.
Louis the night before, the Flames were due for a let-down and it came
in spades in Chicago.
If anything, getting brutally humiliated
in Chicago might have some residual benefit for the Flames, a team that
needs to be on top of its game every night to have a chance. If they
were a little full of themselves before meeting the Hawks, a healthy
dose of reality might have been what they need occasionally to maintain
their place in the standings.