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Three Stars: Flames beat Blackhawks 5-1 in Chicago



Technically, the Calgary Flames have been home since their last away game, so their 5-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks is really the first on this road swing. But either way, the winning ways continued away from the Saddledome.

And they did it in convincing fashion. The Flames peppered NHL newbie Arvid Soderblom with 41 shots on their way to a strong showing in the Windy City.

They did it with balance, too, with 11 different players factoring into the scoresheet. Yes, certain ones dominated with multi-point efforts, but more on that later.

Let’s look at the game’s three stars .

Third star: Blake Coleman

Trevor Lewis had the finishing touch, but Coleman did the dirty work on a casual shorthanded goal that was critical in the Calgary Flames adding to their lead rather than allowing the Blackhawks to draw even on the power play with Nikita Zadorov sitting in the penalty box. Late in the second period, it was a crucial time for the Flames to avoid a letdown. They poured on the gas with a franchise record 26 shots on the Blackhawks net in the second 20 minutes and Coleman’s hustle and puck protection before feeding Lewis was an indication of the difference the big-money free-agent signing is making despite not scoring much himself. Lewis deserves an honourable mention for his nifty backhand to the top corner to make it count.

Second star: Matthew Tkachuk

You could give one to goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who didn’t face as much rubber as his counterpart but was very solid between the pipes against a talented Blackhawks offence. Alex DeBrincat was the only one to get the best of him as he made 30 saves for the win. But Matthew Tkachuk scored in his third straight game to bring his total to 14 on the year. It was a great deflection of a hard pass from Johnny Gaudreau that did it, and he returned the favour in getting Johnny the puck for the game’s final score as he played decoy on the two-on-one rush in the dying minutes.

Tkachuk has been stellar since the break (before that, too) and the Calgary Flames top line is one of the most potent in the league right now. He led all skaters with seven shots on goal and made life difficult for Soderblom.

First star: Johnny Gaudreau

Gaudreau was a beast. Again. His second-straight three-point performance on the road is a testament to how incredibly energetic and focused he has been this season under Darryl Sutter. It also makes you wonder how hard it’s going to be to keep him around as a pending unrestricted free agent. But enjoy him while you can. He set up the first goal and was quarterbacking the power-play marker by Elias Lindholm that turned out to be the game-winner.

His two-on-one goal was a perfectly placed wrister that Soderblom had no chance at stopping. Honestly, he almost makes it look too easy.

“It’s fun to watch him,” Lindholm said after the game via Zoom. “He just keeps building his game and seems to be having fun out there. He’s one of the best playmakers I’ve played with.”

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