Ray Emery turned in a stellar goaltending performance Saturday night that left everyone talking and left the Calgary Flames shaking their heads.
The Chicago goaltender had a career-high 45 saves as the Blackhawks, on a shootout goal from Patrick Kane, won 3-2 over Calgary in a game that saw each team score in the final minute.
“That was criminal. They’ve got to call the cops after that performance. (Emery) stole two points. He was spectacular,” said Chicago coach Joel Quenneville. “I’ve never ever been outplayed, outchanced like that in my life. That was a special performance and it continued on in the shootout.”
Scoreless after two periods, Calgary outshot Chicago 24-6 in the third period and looked like they were going to hand the Blackhawks their first regulation defeat when Jay Bouwmeester scored with 35 seconds remaining to put the Flames ahead 2-1.
However, Chicago pulled Emery for an extra skater and, in a furious scramble around the Flames’ net in the final seconds, Marian Hossa pounced on the puck and fired it over a fallen Miikka Kiprusoff with 2.3 seconds left.
In the shootout, Kane’s goal on a backhand deke — after misses from Calgary’s Alex Tanguay and Jiri Hudler — put the game in the hands of Emery, who denied Roman Cervenka to win it for the Blackhawks in thrilling fashion.
“We did a good job of managing the flurries that they came at us in and we got goals at the end when we needed them,” said Emery. “We didn’t quit even though they got one with 30 seconds left. We battled right to the end, got one with two seconds left and got one in the shootout. They’re not going to be pretty all the time but those ones, those are the ones you need to eek out if you want to have a good year.”
Twenty minutes after the game ended, Tanguay was still searching for answers on how the Flames never got the victory.
“I’m not sure we’re going to get much sleep tonight. The way we played doesn’t show on the score sheet,” Tanguay said. “(Mikael) Backlund had an empty net, (Curtis) Glencross had an empty net, I got a breakaway in the third period where I just have to get it over his pad and it hopped over my stick. Tons of chances. Cammy hit the post, Iggy had five great shots from the slot, I mean, what else can you ask for?”
The Blackhawks (7-0-2) have gone to a shootout in each of their first three games of a season-high six-game road trip, but Saturday night was the first time they ended up on top.
Dennis Wideman also scored for Calgary (1-3-2). The Flames now depart on a three-game road trip beginning Tuesday in Detroit.
Despite starting the season with five of its first six games at home, the Flames sit last in the Western Conference with just a single win.
“We’ve said it all along that we’re a better team and tonight we showed it, but for some reason, when you don’t win you find ways to lose and certainly that was one of those cases tonight,” Tanguay added.
Desperate for a victory, Calgary turned in its best period of the season in the third period outshooting Chicago 24-6. Glencross was right in the middle of the Flames’ offence, with five shots in the final period as well as several other great chances that didn’t result in shots.
“Probably had seven chances at least,” said Glencross. “Hit the crossbar on a breakaway, lots around the crease, just didn’t get it over his pads. He played very well for them tonight, Emery. This is one of those games where he deserved to win tonight.”
Chicago finally opened the scoring at 4:08 when Kane fired in a rebound after Patrick Sharp hit the goal post. Calgary tied it at 13:23 on Wideman’s power-play goal.
“If we play like we did today, we’ll win a lot of games. We pretty much outplayed one of the best teams in the league,” said Backlund, whose six shots were second on the team behind Stempniak, who was credited with nine.
Chicago entered the night as one of only three teams without a regulation loss. New Jersey Devils and San Jose Sharks were the other two.
“I see many positive signs all over our game and it’s just a matter of collecting a couple of wins and growing a little confidence,” said Hartley. “If we play every game like we played tonight, we’re going to turn our season around, that’s for sure.”
Kiprusoff made his sixth straight start after the 36-year-old Finn gave up an uncharacteristic 19 goals in his first five, which left him with a gaudy 3.76 goals-against average and .854 save percentage.
Notes: Calgary was one off its team record for shots in a period of 25, which they’ve done twice(1988, 2005) a Tanguay had his 500th career assist ... Dating back to last season, Iginla has gone nine games without a goal and has just one in his last 17 games ... Chicago C Dave Bolland (lower body) did not play after getting hurt Friday in Vancouver ... The game’s only fight featured Tim Jackman and Brandon Bollig in the first period. It was significant in that the Flames entered the night as the only NHL team without a fight.