What went well for the Calgary Flames in victory over Blackhawks?

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 06: Mike Smith /

Sometimes, in a long season replete with depressed valleys and eminent peaks, you’ve got to grind out results and win ugly, which is exactly what the Calgary Flames did on Tuesday evening. 

The Flames, for the first time since Feb. 3, 2012, beat the Chicago Blackhawks in regulation time. Sure, we were three minutes and 30 seconds from heading to yet another extra frame with the pesky Hawks, but Michael Stone‘s seeing-eye wrist shot from the point somehow found twine through a bunch of bodies.

In retrospect, it’s the kind of win the Flames needed. Lately, Calgary left the Scotiabank Saddledome with bupkis, even after controlling, barring late-game collapses, the lion’s share of games.

The equation was entirely different in Chicago, as the Blackhawks outplayed Calgary for large swathes of last evening’s battle, outshooting the Flames 36-23. The two points Calgary gained in the standings is the only thing that matters, though, and here’s the main factors that facilitated victory.

1.  Mike Smith‘s road heroics continue

Mike Smith was back to his lights-out best. The 35-year-old, who turned aside 34 of 36 shots, ceases to amaze on the road, lifting his side to yet another crucial road win. Smith, with a 10-3-3 away record, now has 10 road victories in 16 starts.

While managing an impressive .944 save percentage last night, it was, astonishingly, slightly down from his overall .948 road save percentage. He made some brilliant stops at opportune times but, like all other all-star netminders, required a bit of good fortune.

2. Smith’s best friend helped at time of need

The old adage “you’ve got to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good” held true, as Smith’s crossbar came to his aid twice in the third period. Jonathan Toews barrelled down the wing on an odd-man rush at the midway mark of the third.

The game, level at one, was perfectly poised. Toews opted to keep, firing a missile that flew off the crossbar, safely out of harm’s way and into the protective mesh high above Smith’s goal. Your best friends always have your back in the clutch. Smith can definitely attest to that.

3. Calgary Flames silenced Patrick Kane‘s line, almost

For the Flames to win, they had to silence Chicago’s most threatening offensive trio, led by Patrick Kane and Nicholas Schmaltz. For 59:07, they did exactly that. Helped by Smith, Kane, Schmaltz and Artem Anisimov were collectively stifled by the Flames, that is until the final seven seconds when Kane scored a consolation goal.

Schmaltz and Kane were influential on Saturday at the Saddledome, and Glen Gulutzan can be proud of his team for just about keeping the Hawks’ talented triumvirate at bay last night.

Next: Flames embroiled in tight playoff race

Outlasting Chicago 4-3 in a gritty victory, the Flames improved their formidable road record to 14-5-5, the third best road winning percentage in the league.

The Flames power-play woes continue, with Gulutzan’s side going 0-for-4 with the man advantage. Calgary lost the special teams battle with the Blackhawks, making the win all the more impressive.