The Calgary Flames had the league’s worst power play at just four per cent coming into Monday’s game against Chicago.
The Blackhawks had the league’s worst penalty kill at just 42.9 per cent, which is also awful, although their issues go deeper than that aspect.
So, of course special teams played an important role in this game. Despite their previous struggles with the advantage, the Flames scored twice on the power play, on goals from Sam Bennett and Sean Monahan, taking their turn capitalizing on Chicago’s early-season difficulties short handed.
The Flames finished two-for-five on the power play, giving them three power play goals in 30 opportunities so far. They jumped all the way to 27th in the league in that category (!!) at 10 per cent. The Blackhawks have given up 14 power play goals against on 26 chances.
“We’ve got to get that out of our game,” Jonathan Toews told CSN Chicago. “As I’ve been saying, the penalty kill usually translates from our effort 5-on-5 and if we’re not starting games well, then we’re getting behind. Obviously [we’re] giving up power plays to begin with and we’re not killing the penalty kills that we’re on. Unfortunate to get behind again tonight.”
This is not the company you’d expect the Blackhawks to be keeping.
The Blackhawks did come back to force overtime, but they ultimately lost 3-2 in the shootout.
Former Blackhawk Kris Versteeg scored the only goal in the deciding breakaway contest, giving Calgary the win.
While the Flames power play came alive for this game, the play of goalie Brian Elliott was significant.
He, too, had struggled mightily with three losses in three starts, and a .839 save percentage, prompting his former teammate Jake Allen to say Flames fans shouldn’t be worried about Elliott despite his dreadful start.
Against Chicago, Elliott made 31 saves on 33 shots and then made five saves in the seven-round shootout.