Collectively, the Chicago Blackhawks and Calgary Flames are keeping a good deal of faith lately.
Calgary enters Monday’s meeting in Chicago on a four-game skid following a three-game winning streak, while the Blackhawks are bemoaning various what-ifs after nearly emerging from a 4-1 hole on Saturday.
“We don’t want to ever go through a little skid, but if there are other people that are questioning or whatever, we’re not,” the Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk said. “We know what we have. We believe in ourselves. We believe in the group. Stay positive, get back to having fun and having fun winning and enjoying the grind of winning games.”
The view from Chicago — delivered in Toronto, which held on for a 5-4 home victory Saturday after scoring the go-ahead goal off a fortunate carom off the end boards with 1:20 remaining — sounds similar.
“I’ll continue to push the positives at them,” Chicago interim coach Derek King said. “There’s nothing to be down about. They battled. I wasn’t here for the first (12) games, but hearing from these guys, every time they were down 3-1 the game was over. There was no pushback. Now we have a little pushback. Wish we just had a better start. And I think we would have had a better outcome. But I love the way we finished.”
After falling behind 4-1 early in the second period, the Blackhawks roared back with successive goals from Connor Murphy, Dominik Kubalik and Jake McCabe.
While the team has alternated losses and wins over the past 11 games following a four-game winning streak, King has worked to maintain an upbeat morale in the locker room. He is 9-6-0 since replacing Jeremy Colliton following the team’s 1-9-2 start.
“Kinger right away had the message of taking the positives and realizing you can’t put yourself down like we did at the start of the game,” Murphy said. “There’s a lot to say for how we played the second half of the game.”
Calgary fell behind 3-0 en route to a 4-2 home loss to Boston on Saturday. It was only the Flames’ second loss in regulation against an Eastern Conference foe in 17 games this season.
The Flames ended a four-game drought on the power play when Tkachuk scored on the man advantage to put Calgary on the board in the second period. Rasmus Andersson had two assists for the Pacific Division-leading Flames.
“We’re still obviously in a good spot standings-wise,” Tkachuk said. “We’ve put ourselves in that spot with the start we’ve had. There’s been not as many wins recently, obviously, so just get back to that. But we put ourselves in a good spot. There’s no need to panic.”
Part of that strong start came at Chicago’s expense. Hosting the Blackhawks on Nov. 23, the Flames won 5-2, with Tkachuck snapping a 2-all tie with 5:35 remaining in the third period. Jacob Markstrom stopped 19 of 21 shots to top Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 34 saves on 37 shots.
The clubs are set to conclude the season series on Jan. 2 in Chicago.
–Field Level Media