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Flames defeat Blackhawks to end skid in Chicago

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Over the last 10 times they had visited Chicago, it became almost a foregone conclusion that the Calgary Flames would leave with a loss to the hometown Blackhawks.

But not so on the 11th trip to the United Center on Sunday night.

It took 92 seconds into overtime, but the Flames broke their long losing streak in the Windy City when Kris Russell's slapshot from just inside the blue line was the deciding factor as the Flames defeated the Blackhawks 3-2.

It was the same score the last time the Flames won at Chicago back on March 16, 2008.

"Well, we beat the LA Kings (and) we beat the Hawks," Flames head coach Bob Hartley said. "With some saves, we're going to be in lots of games. Tonight it could have gone either way, but we found a way to go. But it all starts with your goaltending."

Indeed, goaltending was a big part of Calgary's win. In addition to Russell's game-winning shot, it was the first win for rookie goalie Reto Berra, who was impressive in his NHL debut, stopping all but two of Chicago's 44 shots on goal.

"(I'm) very proud for Reto," Hartley said. "Just the poise that he showed throughout the game, never got rattled, was in perfect control on every shot. The two shots that beat him were perfect shots. So, (it was a) great win."

One of the taller goalies in the league, the 6-4, 194-pound Berra drew praise from Chicago for the way he used his large frame to keep the puck out of the net.

"(Berra) made some big saves," Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "He did a good job. We have to do a better job of getting guys in front of him and making it tough for him to see and getting good shots on him. ... You've got to give him credit."

The win -- only their third in the last nine games -- brought the Flames back up to .500 (6-6-2). It also snapped a three-game overall losing streak to the Blackhawks.

"It's a huge win for us to start this road trip off ... for us to come in here and play the way we did against these guys," said Flames forward Curtis Glencross, who scored Calgary's second goal of the game and assisted on Russell's game-winner.

"We have to hand it to (Berra), coming in and playing his first game with us," Glencross added. "Stood on his head, 40-some shots on goal. We stuck with it. We didn't get a power play tonight. They got a power-play goal at the end there, but we stuck with it and battled through it."

Russell's game-winner, his second goal of the season, was a rarity: It wasn't tipped by a teammate or opposing player. It was simply a rocket of a shot that Chicago goalie Corey Crawford could not stop, or perhaps didn't see coming.

Chicago (9-2-4), meanwhile, saw its three-game winning streak coming into Sunday night's contest snapped. Crawford stopped 27 of Calgary's 30 shots in the losing effort.

"I thought today we had a little drop off in our game, but we knew going into the game it was going to be a hard game," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "(The Flames) work hard, they're tenacious, have good sticks.

"They play with a purpose and offensively they make plays around your end and around your net, so it was a hard game all game long. They make you play a hard game."

After a scoreless first period, Calgary had a chance to take the lead just under four minutes into the second period. Chicago's Marian Hossa was whistled for tripping on Calgary's TJ Gagliardi's breakaway in front of Crawford, resulting in a penalty shot.

Gagliardi appeared to rush his shot, as the puck harmlessly sailed wide to the right of Crawford.

Energized by the play, Chicago came back at 6:25 on Patrick Kane's team-leading eighth goal of the season to break the shutout.

Unfortunately for Blackhawks fans, Calgary answered less than a minute later when center Mike Cammalieri tipped in Dennis Wideman's slapshot from the blue line to tie things up at 1-1.

Calgary went ahead 2-1 early in the third period on Glencross' fifth goal of the season.

Helped by a 5-on-3 advantage with two Flames in the penalty box, Chicago tied the game at 15:41 of the third period on Hossa's slapshot off a pass from Kane. It was Hossa's sixth goal of the season.

Of particular note in Sunday's game, it was a bit unusual to see Crawford in goal on the back end of back-to-back games, having also played Saturday night at Winnipeg.

Crawford's start had fans and media wondering if perhaps Quenneville has lost faith in backup goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.

Sunday marked the first time this season that Crawford played in back-to-back games in as many nights, which is notable considering Sunday was the second of a five-game stretch in nine days.

Normally, the backup goalie typically plays in either the first or second game of back-to-backers.

The last thing Quenneville wants to do is wear Crawford out. But Khabibulin's last game was horrendous: He gave up four goals in less than a period and a half, prompting Quenneville to summon Crawford into the game on what was supposed to be an off-night.

NOTES: Attendance was 21,229. ... Sunday's game marked Chicago's third of 18 straight against Western Conference rivals. ... Chicago C Andrew Shaw played in his 100th career NHL game. ... Chicago has now scored a power-play goal in each of its last seven games. ... G Karri Ramo, recalled from Abbottsford on Saturday, was in uniform for Calgary. ... Calgary already has lost 34 man-games in just 13 games this season. They lost 133 man-games in last season's lockout-shortened campaign. Chicago has lost just eight man-games thus far. ... Calgary rookie Sean Monahan came into the game tied with San Jose's Tomas Hertl for the lead in rookie scoring with 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in the first 13 games. ... The Flames and the Blackhawks have never gone to a shootout in games played in Chicago. ... Calgary is now 5-2-2 in nine one-goal games this season.
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