Blackhawks advance for first time since 1996
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Chicago Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, right, from Russia, shakes hands with Calgary Flames goalie Miikka...
(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jeff McIntosh)
|Arena: Pengrowth Saddledome
Location: Calgary, Alberta
|Referees: Marc Joannette, Dan O'Rourke|
Linesmen: Shane Heyer, Tim Nowak
|Attendance: 19,289 (100.0% full)|
|POSTSEASON Team Stat Comparison|
Power Play Goals
Power Play Goals Allowed
Shorthanded Goals Allowed
Average Penalty Minutes
Assists: Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg
Assists: Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg
Assists: Patrick Kane
Assists: Jordan Leopold
Assists: Samuel Pahlsson, Brent Seabrook
CALGARY, Alberta -- Whooping, hollering and maybe a water fight in the locker room are what you might expect from a young Blackhawks team that won a playoff series for the first time in 13 years.
Not these Blackhawks. They didn't act like a team of twenty-somethings on or off the ice in their conference quarterfinals win over the Calgary Flames.
Chicago downed injury-riddled Calgary 4-1 in Monday's Game 6 to take the series 4-2. The Blackhawks' previous playoff series win was a four-game sweep of Calgary back in 1996.
• The Blackhawks advanced to the second round for the first time since 1996.
• The Flames were eliminated in the first round for the fourth consecutive season.
• Brian Campbell's goal ended a 48-game goal drought.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
The Blackhawks were simply relieved after Monday's game to have earned their first road win in the series and get a breather before facing the well-rested Vancouver Canucks in the next round.
"We're excited about the win, but you pay the price," captain Jonathan Toews said "You take a lot of pressure and abuse."
Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist for Chicago, with Adam Burish and Brian Campbell also scoring. Dustin Byfuglien added an empty-net goal and had two assists. Rookie Kris Versteeg, a Calder Trophy nominee, also contributed two assists.
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Todd Bertuzzi scored the lone goal for the Flames, who managed just two goals in the final two games of the series. They were ousted in the first round for a fourth straight season.
The Flames spent up to the salary cap to build a team for a long postseason run. Injuries hampered them in this series, but the depth wasn't there in the playoffs, either.
"The organization gave us the opportunity to go deep and to win and we didn't get it done," Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. "Injuries are part of it. Even with those, we were still capable for winning this series and it's hard to take."
But to dwell on the Flames' injuries would take away from the Blackhawks' poise, tenacity and speed in this series.
The Blackhawks had 10 players with a combined 309 playoff games compared to Calgary's 19 players with 764 postseason games. With 14 players under the age of 25, the Blackhawks are the youngest team in the NHL.
Nikolai Khabibulin made 43 saves for the win. He's 8-3 in the playoffs against the Flames, including beating them in the 2004 Stanley Cup final when he played for Tampa Bay. His regular season record vs. the Flames is 22-5-2.
"People started saying in Game 3 and Game 4 he wasn't playing his best hockey," Toews said. "He's our best player and he proved that again tonight."
Chicago was quicker out of its zone, faster on the forecheck and unafraid to engage Calgary physically.
"All season, I think teams thought they could challenge us physically and we've done a good job of answering that bell," Burish said. "I think a lot of our guys enjoy that. I know I enjoy those confrontations."
Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 12 shots in the loss. The Flames pressed for goals in the third period and pulled Kiprusoff with more than 2 minutes remaining to no avail.
With Bertuzzi in the penalty box, Kane made it 1-0 just 2:20 in. From the bottom of the circle, Versteeg tried to connect with Byfuglien in front of the net for a tip-in, but the puck deflected out front for Kane.
Byfuglien lugged the puck and circled behind the net to the half-boards before passing to Burish, who beat Kiprusoff midway in the opening period.
Defenseman Campbell's slap shot from the point through traffic was deflected and beat Kiprusoff to the glove side for a 3-0 edge in the second period.
Bertuzzi skated deep down the wing and beat Khabibulin with a sharp-angled shot over the Russian's shoulder 54 seconds into the third session.
With the exception of their run to the Stanley Cup final in 2004, the Flames haven't made it out of the first round of playoffs since winning the Cup in 1989 ... Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf was a scratch for Game 6 because of broken ribs he suffered getting checked by Chicago's Troy Brouwer in Game 5. Defenseman Cory Sarich played on a broken foot and both of Daymond Langkow's hands were not fully functional ... The Flames ended the regular season scoreless on their last 45 power-play chances. They were only marginally better during the postseason with two goals on 18 opportunities while a man up.