Flames on a hot streak entering game against Blackhawks
CHICAGO — As the Calgary Flames turn the page on the calendar to a new month, they hope the momentum from a successful surge through late November carries over.
Entering Sunday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Flames have won two of their past three games and seven of their last 10. Calgary hopes to keep surging ahead against Chicago, which has struggled to settle into any kind of groove since early this season.
The Flames head east after a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Friday in which Calgary’s defense limited the Kings to 14 shots. The Calgary offense also came alive in a third period when the Flames scored three goals, including the game-winner by Johnny Gaudreau, whose goal 7:41 into the third period snapped a 1-1 tie and allowed the Flames to keep moving in a positive direction.
“We’re a confident group,” Calgary center Sean Monahan told reporters after the victory, according to the team’s official website. “You come to the rink every day and you want to win. I think with the group we have in here, the guys that are in here coming to compete every day we have a good chance every night.”
The Flames (15-9-2) had to demonstrate some patience in the victory, which was on display until they could find the back of the net more than they did during the first two periods of Friday’s game. But after producing the three late goals, the Flames proved that they can rely on their defense until their goal scorers can get going.
“Through 40 (minutes), it didn’t seem like much was going on,” goalie Mike Smith told reporters after he made 13 saves. “It was a pretty boring game to be honest. But saying that, that can lead to some inconsistencies in your game and I thought our guys did a really good job of sticking with it. That’s a team … they’ve been like that for how long now? Just a team that waits for you to make a mistake and make you pay.”
The Blackhawks (9-13-5) enter Sunday’s game riding a three-game losing streak after a 5-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday. Chicago has surrendered 19 goals in the three games and allowed three goals in less than five minutes of a disastrous first period.
The frustration level has continued to mount throughout Jeremy Colliton’s short tenure as coach after he replaced Joel Quenneville. After a 6-5 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, Colliton told reporters that the time for excuse-making is over.
Saturday’s road loss only made matters worse as the Blackhawks prepare for the Flames, but Colliton said his team can’t blame anyone for its predicament outside of itself.
“We’ve got to tell the truth to the team and then they need to respond,” Colliton told reporters after the loss to Winnipeg, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Colliton has said the Blackhawks’ compete level needs to improve and that it needs to filter throughout a lineup that has its share of veteran leadership. But asked if the veterans need to keep the heads up of Chicago’s younger players through tough times, defenseman Duncan Keith — who was ejected from Saturday’s loss — bristled at the notion.
“This is the NHL,” Keith told reporters Thursday, according to the Tribune. “It’s not really a developmental league. It’s about winning. It’s about results. That makes it more fun. Winning. Winning games.”