CALGARY, Alberta — A scrap along the bench for a roughing penalty. A scoring chance right out of the box. A foolish slashing penalty. A goal. All in a row. All Andrew Shaw.
it was the quintessential Shaw sequence — the good and the bad he brings with his unique mix of grit, recklessness and skill— and it was good enough to give the Blackhawks a desperately needed 4-1 victory over the Calgary Flames. Shaw has scored in three straight games. Andrew Ladd added two goals (including an empty-netter) and an assist, and Scott Darling was outstanding with 31 saves.
With the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues winning to stay well ahead of them, and the red-hot Nashville Predators winning to briefly tie them, the Hawks — 1-4-2 in their previous seven games — simply had to have this one against a team that’s nowhere near the playoff picture. But it still didn’t come easy.
“We know where we’re at in terms of the standings — Nashville’s right on our heels and St. Louis is pulling away,” Ladd said. “We understand this road trip’s a big road trip for us.”
Shaw’s goal — a redirect of a Michal Rozsival slap-pass in the final minute of the second period— broke a 1-1 tie after Darling came up big on a nearly four-minute penalty kill, including 20 seconds of 5-on-3 action courtesy of Shaw’s slashing penalty. As Joel Quenneville put it, “He’s lucky he got a shift.”
“I knew I had to make up for that dumb penalty I took,” Shaw said. “So I did what I could to get to the net.”
Up until the wild sequence, the Hawks had trouble getting much going offensively. Andrew Ladd gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead at 5:51 of the second period when T.J. Brodie sent an ill-advised outlet pass right to Ladd’s stick. Dougie Hamilton — who had been robbed by Darling twice earlier — tied it up at 12:47 after Freddie Hamilton flubbed a shot, accidentally teeing up a perfect one-timer for his brother.
After Shaw’s goal, it remained a one-goal game until Ladd and Teuvo Teravainen added empty-netters in the final two minutes.
“Darling was huge,” Shaw said. “He made some big-time saves, he fought through traffic to find pucks and he was lights-out tonight.”
Marcus Kruger played well in his first game since Dec. 17. He had two good scoring chances and helped kill off the lengthy Flames power play. But Shaw handled most of the faceoffs for the fourth line, as Kruger works his way back from wrist surgery. Kruger said he hopes to take more draws Sunday in Vancouver.
“Lot of fun being out there again,” he said. “I’ve been practicing for a long time, and you’re always wondering how it’s going to be in a real game. It was good to get that going and obviously it was nice to get a win.”