Flames lose to injury-riddled Blackhawks, fall back below .500

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The Calgary Flames wrapped their road trip with a thud.

With a dud, really.

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The Flames suffered a 4-3 loss Sunday to the Chicago Blackhawks, a demoralizing defeat to a squad that sits 31st in the overall standings and was missing most of its marquee names — including rookie phenom Connor Bedard — because of injury. (Bedard, the youngest player ever picked for the NHL All-Star Game, suffered a fractured jaw in his last outing.)

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“It’s a tough one to swallow,” said winger Jonathan Huberdeau during a post-game interview on Sportsnet 960 The Fan. “It’s a game that we’ve gotta win.”

After a woeful weekend, with back-to-back losses in Philadelphia and Chicago, the Flames have tumbled back below .500 at 17-18-5.

Nazem Kadri potted a pair in the Windy City, while Andrew Mangiapane tucked one of his own.

Colin Blackwell tallied twice for the depleted Blackhawks, who snapped a four-game losing skid by putting four behind Flames second-stringer Dan Vladar.

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Blackwell staked the hosts to an early lead, racing down the left wing, slamming on his brakes to shake Nick DeSimone, and then pinging a shot off the inside of the post on the glove-side.

The Flames figured they had tied it up less than a minute later, but the hosts challenged and the referees ultimately agreed that Elias Lindholm was guilty of goaltender interference as he converted a cross-crease pass from Huberdeau.

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There was no question the next one counted. Thanks to a dandy dish by Noah Hanifin, a pass that eluded a pair of defenders, Kadri simply had to steer the puck across the goal-line from gimme range.

Flames at Blackhawks
Goaltender Petr Mrazek #34 of the Chicago Blackhawks watches the puck slide to Nazem Kadri #91 of the Calgary Flames who then scores a goal in the first period on January 7, 2024 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Mangiapane, who has been red-hot since New Year’s Eve, had a little luck on his side as he stretched his point streak to five games with a man-advantage marker. Mangiapane was attempting to sneak a feed to Blake Coleman, but the puck banked in off penalty killer Connor Murphy.

Before the end of the second stanza, the Blackhawks had benefitted from a couple of lucky bounces of their own. Philipp Kurashev’s spinning shot glanced off the stick of Rasmus Andersson and squeezed past Vladar, and then Nikita Zaitsev’s go-ahead goal deflected off DeSimone’s skate. It would have otherwise sailed wide.

Blackwell buried his second of the afternoon — and third in 10 games so far this season — after another wacky ricochet with less than six minutes remaining in the third. That power-play marker was assisted by Zach Sanford, claimed the previous day on waivers.

Kadri replied just 42 seconds later with an awkward angle strike, but that’s as close as the visitors would get.

ICE CHIPS: The Flames will now pit-stop at the Saddledome — playing host Tuesday to the Ottawa Senators (7 p.m. MT, Sportsnet West/Sportsnet 960 The Fan) — before packing their suitcases for two more on the road … Seldom-used winger Walker Duehr suited up on Calgary’s fourth line, just his third game appearance in the past six-plus weeks. He replaced Adam Ruzicka … Yan Kuznetsov, recalled Friday from the Wranglers, continues to wait on his NHL debut. The 21-year-old defenceman was among the scratches in Chicago.

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