Calgary scored three unanswered 2nd period goals and then held off a Chicago rally for a 4-2 decision to move into a 1st place tie in the Northwest Division while dimming Hawk playoff hopes at the United Center Sunday afternoon.
Flames captain and leading scorer Jarome Iginla snapped a 1-1 tie in the first minute of the 2nd period on a breakaway. Iginla stole a Hawk cross-ice pass at the the blue line and went in alone to beat Patrick Lalime on a wrist shot between his pads for his 45th goal of the campaign.
Less than four minutes later, Calgary made it 3-1 when the puck bounced off two Hawk players and Kristian Huselius fired a 15-footer that glanced off the crossbar past Lalime for his 20th goal.
Near the 14 minute mark on a 2-on-1, Alex Tanguay passed to Dion Phaneuf and his 30-footer caught the short side to make it 4-1.
Calgary goalie Mikka Kiprusoff kept his team ahead as the Hawks outshot the visitors 36-27, especially in the final period when Chicago had a 17-5 edge in shots.
The Hawks cut the margin to 4-2 near the five minute mark of the 3rd period when Robert Lang banged in his 20th goal off a Dustin Byfuglien rebound just outside the goal crease.
The Hawks had three power play chances in the frame with Lang, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and James Wisniewski each having excellent scoring chances, but all were denied by Kiprusoff.
Coach Denis Savard put Nikolai Khabibulin in goal for the final period and he came up with several big saves after having been sidelined with a back problem.
On a power play at 16:39, Savard pulled his goalie for an extra attacker, but the Hawks couldn't connect.
In the opening period, Calgary scored on a power play at 1:51 when Adrian Aucoin's long shot glanced off the goal post to make it 1-0.
Hawks rookie Adam Burish added some excitement for the near capacity crowd of 20,717 at 3:10 when he battled Eric Nystrom. Burish leveled Nystrom with a solid right to the jaw as each player received five minutes for fighting.
The Hawks tied the game on a power play at 10:25 on their first shot of the game. Kane fed Toews a pass and the 19-year-old slipped a 15-footer through Kiprusoff's legs for his 20th goal.
Savard said he felt his team got off to a slow start, but then outplayed the Flames most of the way. Unfortunately, the 2nd period turnovers and Kiprusoff's play spelled the difference.
Originally, Savard planned to start Corey Crawford in goal, but the rookie came down with the flu in the morning and was assigned to Rockford.
Calgary moved into a 1st place tie in their division with Minnesota and Colorado while Chicago remains 7 points out of the last playoff spot with only 9 games remaining.
The Hawks wind up their homestand Wednesday against Washington in a game honoring goalie Tony Esposito (7:30 pm).
AP Notes: Iginla has five goals and three assists in four games. ... Chicago D Brent Sopel returned after missing 12 games with a broken wrist. ... Khabibulin dressed because rookie G Corey Crawford, who had been backing up Lalime, had the flu. As a technicality, Crawford was reassigned to Rockford (AHL) before the game.
Head coach Mike Keenan: "We had a good start; it was a solid start for a road game and we're trying to have a presence defensively throughout the game, which I thought we did a fairly good job protecting the lead, which is something we emphasized going into tonight's game, certainly after we were able to get the lead. When you're in a situation at the very end and as other teams are competing for playoff positioning you need to go the extra mile particularly defensively, and part of that's blocking shots. That's a good sign for our team.
"We knew, first of all, that they were going to stretch their offensive players to the far blue line, which they did, and because of the rules you really don't have to have a [lot of] skill. All you have to do is slap the puck from your own goal line, have a guy tip it and forecheck, which we expect them to do. They got a tough call on [Jim] Vandermeer so they got a little bit of momentum. They scored a goal which gives them a little bit of momentum, but we knew they would try to stretch their offense for sure because of the position they were in going into the third period and the position they were going into with the standings."
Goaltender Miika Kiprusoff: "It's a one-one game and that's a goal you have to forget. You have to keep working and it worked hard for us tonight. I was able to play a really strong game and I thought we really needed these points. I knew that what I was being told before the game was that it's going to be a lot of crashing and tips. I was ready for that. There's not too much you can do but go out and challenge and play big."
Defenseman Dion Phaneuf: "They had a couple power plays there at the end and he [Kiprusoff] definitely stood in there for us. They put a lot of traffic to the net and a lot of pucks to the net and it's our job to let him be able to see the puck. When he sees it he's going to stop it so it's a big part of the game to get traffic, but we try to minimize it as much as we can."