One night after their longest winning streak of the season came to an end, the Blackhawks return to a place where they’re quite comfortable — even though they’ve rarely seen it of late.
They’re back on the United Center ice Sunday night against the Calgary Flames, who look to end an otherwise dismal four-game road trip on a high note.
The Blackhawks (20-9-1) failed to find the defensive effort that had carried them all season Saturday, allowing a season high-tying 41 shots to the New York Islanders in a 3-2 loss. Chicago came in yielding 28.7 shots per game.
“This was a wakeup call for sure,” said Patrick Kane, who scored his 10th goal in his last 14 games. “We allowed too many chances. We will come back strong (Sunday). Our goalie was great and gave us every chance.”
Kane should have a good chance to score in a third straight game Sunday. He has 16 goals in 27 career meetings with Calgary — his second-best mark against any opponent — and has seven goals and five assists in the last eight in the series.
Scott Darling, who stopped 38 shots Saturday, started all four games on the Blackhawks’ road trip, but he’s never played on back-to-back nights in the NHL. That could mean Joel Quenneville turns to Antti Raanta, who has a .942 save percentage in five starts, as Chicago plays just its third home game since Nov. 17.
After falling to Pittsburgh 3-1 on Friday, Calgary (17-12-2) has dropped the first three games of this trip to follow a home loss to San Jose on Dec. 6.
The Flames scored 3.11 goals per game — fifth-best in the NHL — during their first 27 games despite the third-lowest shots on goal average (26.6). Lately, they’ve been getting plenty of shots but they haven’t been going in. Calgary has outshot its opponents 140-100 on this four-game skid, but it’s been outscored 14-7.
“(We need to) get more guys in front of the net and go to the dirty areas,” forward Paul Byron told the Flames’ official website. “It looks like other teams are scoring those goals right in the paint and we’re not getting enough of those.”
Third in the Western Conference just 10 days ago, Calgary has started to tumble in the standings.
“No one feels sorry for us, that’s for sure,” coach Bob Hartley said. “We’re in a very competitive business. It’s around us, it’s there. We’ve done it before, we just have to go back and keep going.
“On Sunday, we’ll be against the Hawks. It’s important we regroup, refocus and stay on the job in front of us.”
The Blackhawks and Flames have met twice already this season, with each team recording a win. Calgary edged Chicago 2-1 in overtime on Oct. 15 — one of only four home losses for the Blackhawks, who got revenge with a 4-3 road win Nov. 20.
Karri Ramo and Jonas Hiller have alternated starts during the Flames’ losing streak. Hiller has started both games against the Blackhawks this season, and made 49 saves at the United Center in October.
Jonathan Toews played Saturday after exiting Thursday’s game with an upper-body injury. He’s been held to just three points in his past nine games against Calgary.