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Blackhawks end mini-skid with shutout win

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- While most teams wouldn't fret too much about a two-game losing skid, it became a significant matter of concern for the Chicago Blackhawks, the top team in the NHL this season.

That's why the Blackhawks breathed a sigh of relief after they snapped their season-worst streak with a 2-0 win over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night at the United Center.

"We were on that long winning streak and it seemed like everything was golden, and there were still some problems that we needed to fix," said Chicago forward Patrick Kane, who assisted on both of the game's goals, by Nick Leddy and Brent Seabrook. "There still are (issues). We're obviously never going to be perfect, but that's a fun thing about the process is trying to improve and keep getting better."

It was apparent from the opening faceoff that Chicago was in the game to win it -- and nothing less.

"Let's be wanting to be out there, let's be confident in situations and do things the right way," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said, revealing some of the message he imparted to his team prior to the game.

Getting back on track increased the Blackhawks' season record to a league best 25-4-3. The Flames fell to 12-15-4.

Much of the credit for Chicago's win goes to goalie Ray Emery, who recorded his first shutout of the season and improved to a career-best 12-0-0.

"It's a nice number, it's a great stat, and I thought he had a great game tonight," Quenneville said. "He's had two remarkable games against (the Flames)."

Emery finished with 16 saves.

"It's always good to put a zero on the board, but I'm just glad to get a win," he said.

It was the second outstanding game Emery had against the Flames this season. He turned back 45 of 47 shots in the last meeting with the Flames on Feb. 2, a game the Hawks won 3-2 in a shootout.

Also in that game, the Hawks had their most lopsided contest of the season in shots, getting outshot 47-19 yet still coming out with the win.

On Tuesday, it was the Flames who were woefully outshot. Chicago dominated 35-16 in shots on goal, including a 16-3 margin in the second period. Likewise, the Blackhawks played stifling defense that Calgary just couldn't crack.

"We got a lead early on and continued to apply pressure, but we really didn't give much up again, so it was a great night defensively," Emery said. "(The Flames) didn't really have any in-tight chances or anything like that, so every time you get a shot, you can see it, it's a routine save. Sometimes it's difficult if there's not action, but not tonight."

Emery drew the start not only for his previous game against Calgary, but also because Corey Crawford was shelled for five goals and the loss Monday against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.

Even though Calgary played its usual stingy game on defense, Leddy scored his fifth goal of the season just 7:09. Chicago doubled the lead at 17:48 of the second period when Seabrook scored his sixth of the season. Both goals came against Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, who made 33 saves.

"We didn't have too much zone time consistently over the game, not enough shots," Flames forward Jarome Iginla said. "They played well. ... In the third we were a little bit better, but not enough to get any by Emery."

Still smarting from their 5-4 loss to the Kings, the Blackhawks came out with a visibly more aggressive offensive style against the Flames.

"I liked our game tonight," Quenneville said. "We talked about it before the game, that we welcome the challenge of playing at a certain standard of how we compete and how we play with a purpose, and I thought we met the goals and the objectives."

The same couldn't be said about the Flames, who continue to struggle, particularly in close games.

"We're playing one of the deepest teams in the league when it comes to talent," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. "They scored the first goal. They really shut us down. We had no answer to generate any form of attack.

"We had a couple decent chances on the power play. Emery came up with a few good saves. If we could have got one goal, we could have turned it around, but it didn't happen."

NOTES: Calgary's record all-time against Chicago is now 61 wins, 62 losses, 26 ties, three overtime losses and two shootout losses. ... Tuesday marked the 900th career NHL game for Calgary's Cory Sarich, while teammate Chris Butler played in his 250th career game. ... The Flames are one of only five teams in the NHL that has not given up a short-handed goal. ... Among the 21,790 in attendance was actor Mr. T. Wearing an American flag bandana, the star of the legendary TV show "The A Team" took part in a goal-shooting contest between the second and third periods and made one shot.
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