Ray Emery may never play a better game.
Emery’s dazzling 45-save performance in Saturday’s 3-2 shootout win over Calgary had the Blackhawks buzzing and left the Flames kicking themselves for failing to take advantage of the tons of great scoring chances they had.
“We obviously got outplayed and shouldn’t have won that game,” Patrick Kane told reporters. “He was the only reason we did. It’s good to see, especially for a backup goaltender like that. We have confidence in him and he really showed us. They almost had 50 shots and he played unbelievable. The 2 points go to him.”
Calgary had 24-6 advantage in shots in the third period and appeared set to hand the Hawks their first regulation loss when Jay Bouwmeester scored to snap a 1-1 tie with 35 seconds remaining following a turnover by Kane.
But the Hawks pulled Emery for an extra skater, and in a furious scramble around the net in the final seconds, Marian Hossa pounced on the puck and fired it over goalie Miikka Kiprusoff with three seconds remaining.
In the shootout, Kane scored on a backhanded deke through Kiprusoff’s five hole after misses by Alex Tanguay and Jiri Hudler to put the game in Emery’s hands. He then denied Roman Cervenka to win it.
“We did a good job of managing the flurries that they came at us in, and we got goals at the end when we needed them,” Emery said. “We didn’t quit even though they got one with 30 seconds left. We battled right to the end, got one with two seconds left and got one in the shootout.
“They’re not going to be pretty all the time but those are the ones, those are the ones you need to eke out if you want to have a good year.”
Tanguay had a tough time searching for the words to describe how the Flames felt to lose a game they pretty much dominated.
“I’m not sure we’re going to get much sleep tonight,” Tanguay said. “The way we played doesn’t show on the score sheet. (Mikael) Backlund had an empty net, (Curtis) Glencross had an empty net, I got a breakaway in the third period where I just have to get it over his pad, and it hopped over my stick.
“Tons of chances. Cammy (Mike Cammalleri) hit the post, Iggy (Jaromr Iginla) had 5 great shots from the slot. I mean, what else can you ask for?”
The Hawks are 7-0-2 and have gone to a shootout in each of their first three games of a season-high, six-game road trip. They play at San Jose on Tuesday.
Calgary’s third period was probably its best 20 minutes of the season, but Emery was there every step of the way to frustrate the Flames.
“Probably had seven chances at least,” Glencross said. “Hit the crossbar on a breakaway, lots around the crease, just didn’t get it over his pads. He played very well for them, Emery. This is one of those games where he deserved to win.”
Kane thanked Hossa for the late tying goal that prevented him from being the goat. After Kane turned the puck over trying to go 1-on-4, he was beaten back to the net by Bouwmeester.
“That was probably my fault,” Kane said. “I made a turnover at the red line and they came down 3-on-2 and scored. Hoss kind of saved me there by tying it up to make it 2-2.”
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