This could be Pirri’s last shot with Hawks

This could be Brandon Pirri’s last real shot to make a positive impression with the Blackhawks.

Pirri, recalled from Rockford on Monday, centered the second line for Patrick Kane and Kris Versteeg in Tuesday’s game against Calgary that opened the Hawks’ six-game road trip.

And with Pirri coming up on the end of his entry-level contract, this could be the biggest audition of his career. Once Pirri is off his entry-level deal he will lose his waiver exemption, meaning he would need to clear waivers to go back and forth to Rockford.

On top of everything, with the March 5 trade deadline approaching, the Hawks will need to make a decision on a second-line center. If they are not happy with the production they are getting from Pirri or Michal Handzus, they might decide to trade for another center.

The Flames beat the Hawks 5-4 in overtime on T.J. Brodie’s goal.

“It’s another opportunity and that’s what I’ve been looking for,” Pirri told reporters Tuesday. “Obviously it was disappointing to be sent down, but at the same time it’s another opportunity here and I’m going to try and make the most of it.”

Pirri knows he needs to work on the defensive part of his game.

“Being a 200-foot player is a big part of everyone’s game,” he said. “That consistency is something I went down there to work on. If I’m doing what I can every game and stay consistent, that’s going to keep me up here a little longer.”

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville thought Pirri showed overall improvement in his game the last time he was up when he scored 6 goals in 24 games.

“I thought he made inroads the last time when he was here,” Quenneville told reporters. “He progressed that he was aware of his responsibility and what he could contribute to our team game. We would expect him to be cognizant of how he needs to play without the puck and offensively play to your strengths. He’s playing with a couple guys that have skill as well.”

Antti Raanta got the start in goal with Quenneville deciding to save Corey Crawford back until Wednesday’s game at Vancouver. But Raanta failed to make it out of the second period.

Twice the Hawks fell behind in the first period only to answer both times.

Raanta and the Hawks fell behind 71 seconds into the game when Mikael Backlund busted through the defense and scored, but Kane tied it with his 25th goal a few minutes later on a sweet feed from Versteeg.

Lance Bouma put Calgary back ahead with a shot that hit Raanta up high and dropped into the net, but Marian Hossa’s rebound goal made it 2-2.

The Flames took their third lead early in the second period when Matt Stajan scored.

Raanta was pulled and replaced by Crawford after a short-handed goal by Backlund at 10:25.

Ben Smith’s goal brought the Hawks back within 1 before Hossa scored short-handed at 17:33 to make it 4-4.

Bryan Bickell returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch on Sunday against Winnipeg.

“It was frustrating,” Bickell told reporters. “But with how my game’s been going, I felt like I deserved to sit out.”

Bickell played left wing on a revamped third line with Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad.

“He needs to be physically involved in the game and stronger in the puck areas,”

Quenneville said. “We’re looking for him to do the right thing shift in and shift out and just contribute to our team game.”

ŸFollow Tim’s hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone.

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