Seeking their longest winning streak of the season, the Blackhawks could turn to Emery again Sunday night in hopes of continuing their recent home domination of the Calgary Flames.
Since replacing Corey Crawford in a 4-3 shootout loss to Phoenix on Dec. 5, Emery has shined, starting each of Chicago’s four straight wins while allowing eight goals. He entered the weekend with a 1.69 goals-against average in December, the lowest of any goaltender to make at least four starts this month.
With his fourth team in five years, Emery is 8-1-2 on the season following a 24-save effort in Friday’s 4-1 victory over Anaheim.
“I don’t take anything for granted,” he said. “You never know how things are going to go. If you expect something and you’re not willing to work for it, you usually don’t get it.
“So it’s one game at a time. Every time I go in there, I try to do my best.”
Emery has been particularly dominant at the United Center, going 5-0-1 with a 1.49 GAA, and the Blackhawks (20-8-4) have one of the league’s best home records at 10-2-3.
Though coach Joel Quenneville has yet to officially make a change in goal, he seems prepared to ride Emery for the time being.
“He’s going a great job. Ray’s very solid, looks composed. He’s fighting through screens and finding pucks and not a lot of loose stuff around him as well, he’s been very clean around his net,” said Quenneville, whose club has gone 8-1-1 over its last 10 games.
“We got some momentum here, we want to make sure that we go into (Christmas) break on a positive note. Calgary’s been on the road here, and they’ll be hungry.”
The Flames (14-14-4) are concluding a four-game trip, after which they’ll play two home contests before heading back on the road Friday for a seven-city expedition.
Calgary had won three straight before opening this road-heavy stretch with an 0-1-2 mark, suffering a 3-2 shootout loss to Florida on Friday. All the traveling may already be taking a toll on the Flames, who haven’t lost four in a row since an 0-2-2 skid Jan. 3-11.
“In the last eight minutes in the game, I thought we looked a little tired,” coach Brent Sutter said after his team allowed the tying goal with 4:35 left in regulation.
Calgary certainly hasn’t enjoyed trips to Chicago lately, going 0-9-1 in its last 10 games there - including playoffs - while getting outscored 46-21.
Miikka Kiprusoff started each of those contests, compiling a 4.59 GAA. Kiprusoff, however, made 30 saves in a 5-2 home victory over the Blackhawks on Nov. 18. Emery didn’t play that game but made 24 saves one week earlier when Calgary lost 4-1 in Chicago.
Kiprusoff received a rare night off Friday as Leland Irving turned away 39 of 41 shots in his NHL debut.
Emery, whose last shutout came Feb. 1, 2010, in a 3-0 victory at Calgary while with Philadelphia, has won his last three meetings with the Flames and has a career 1.19 GAA against them.
If Emery is in goal, one of his top concerns will be Olli Jokinen, who had a goal and an assist for the second time in as many nights Friday. He’s notched 11 points over his last eight games.
Chicago forward Patrick Sharp has 22 points in his last 16 games, including seven goals and five assists during an eight-game point streak.
Teammate Dan Carcillo was held out Friday with an undisclosed upper body injury, leaving his status for Sunday uncertain.
Chicago hasn’t won five straight since an eight-game run Feb. 20-March 5.