Four of the victories in the Calgary Flames’ surge of six wins in nine games have come away from home.
The Flames look to keep that success stirring on Sunday as they visit the Chicago Blackhawks in the opener of a five-game road trip.
“We’re climbing up in the standings,” the Flames’ Blake Coleman said. “We’re scratching and clawing to keep moving up here.”
Being efficient proved enough in Calgary’s latest victory Friday, a 4-1 home victory against the New York Islanders that saw the club score three goals on just six first-period shots.
Milan Lucic, Coleman and Nikita Zadorov fueled the run.
“Our focus was on having a good start, and that was a big reason why we won,” Lucic said.
Added Coleman: “Six shots in the first isn’t ideal, but we capitalized on our opportunities, which has been a bit of a miss for us in some of these games. So it’s good to get rewarded on a few chances.”
Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom assured the Islanders wouldn’t follow suit, stopping 24 of 25 shots he faced, including two breakaways in short succession during the second period. Markstrom has won five of his past seven starts.
Chicago also won Friday behind opportunistic offense and strong goaltending. Jake McCabe’s second-period goal stood up as the lone tally Friday before an empty-netter from Tyler Johnson preserved Alex Stalock’s 2-0 shutout of the Arizona Coyotes.
Stalock stopped 22 shots to help Chicago end a five-game losing streak. It marked Stalock’s first shutout with the Blackhawks and 10th of his career, although he was more focused on team stats following the game.
“Yeah, it was great to get back in the win column. … Anytime you win, it brings fun back to the game, and in sports, you love winning,” Stalock said.
Chicago hasn’t done much of that lately. Friday’s victory was its first since Dec. 23, a home win that snapped an eight-game skid.
Playing without forward Patrick Kane (lower-body injury), the Blackhawks outshot the Coyotes 26-13 through two periods as they netted their first win against a Central Division foe.
“Had four lines going, our defense played very solid and played their position,” Chicago coach Luke Richardson said. “We had a goaltender kicking, but the power play, I know we didn’t score, but they really zipped it around and gave us some momentum in the first period. And the penalty kill, when we needed it the most in the third period, the one we had to kill, I thought they were very sharp and just desperate to make sure they didn’t give up any glorious chances.
“Then just solidify it with a really smart couple little plays to get out of the zone for an empty-netter. From start to finish, I was pretty happy with the performance of the whole team.”
Sunday marks the fourth game of a seven-game homestand for the Blackhawks and the first of three scheduled meetings with Calgary this season.
The Flames swept the season series a year ago, outscoring Chicago 15-5 in three games.
–Field Level Media