CALGARY, Alberta — Antti Raanta’s usual pre-game nap routine was riddled with nightmares — goalie-related nightmares, of course. Fortunately for him, none of the bad thoughts came to fruition in what turned out to be his first NHL victory.
Raanta stopped 20-of-22, and Patrick Kane scored twice, including the game-winner with 18 seconds remaining, as the Blackhawks came back to beat the Calgary Flames, 3-2, on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks swept the Canadian teams on that portion of the Circus Trip, with this one coming in the most dramatic of fashions.
Kane’s two goals extended his point streak to a career-best 12 games. But to Kane, the rookie Raanta was the story.
“He played great,” Kane said of the Finnish goalie. “Both goals, he didn’t really have a chance on. He made numerous saves he’s not expected to make, but he made them. He was our best payer tonight, for sure, 100 percent. I know he’s excited. It seems like he has a bright future for sure.”
Raanta’s future can wait. He was more worried about the present, at least when he roused from that semi-successful pregame nap. Among his nightmares were thinking he was in Dallas and down 3-0 early. But dreams didn’t become reality for Raanta. He was solid throughout, stopping several point-blank shots, and was poised in his first full NHL game.
“It was good couple saves in the first period, and then I was feeling pretty confident,” said Raanta. “I was having that kind of game that I knew I was in the right place. That was the good thing. Of course, two goals both on the glove side, so still something to learn.”
Niklas Hjalmarsson had two assists for the Blackhawks. Jiri Hudler had two helpers for the Flames.
The Blackhawks weren’t faulting Raanta much on the two goals he did allow, Blackhawks miscues of which the Flames took advantage. Matt Stajan, who had been stymied by Raanta on some previous shots, broke through to give the Flames a 1-0 lead in the second. Sean Monahan extended that to 2-0 just 2:05 into the third period.
Coach Joel Quenneville was happy with what Raanta was doing.
“We’re down 1-0 and he’s doing everything he can to keep us in the game, and it’s pretty tight,” he said. “I’m happy for Antti getting his first win.”
That win came thanks to the Blackhawks’ quick offense yet again. Just 56 seconds after Kane’s first goal, Patrick Sharp landed a Marian Hossa pass to tie the game, 2-2, just past the halfway point of the third period.
Then Kane’s winner, a turnaround backhand, beat Calgary goaltender Reto Berra with 18 seconds left in the third period. It was the only thing that could top Kane’s first goal, a shot from behind the net that deflected off Calgary defenseman Kris Russell’s stick and fell in behind Berra.
“That was lucky, but it was a nice break to get us going,” said Kane, who also hit post in the second period. “I was just trying to make the pass anywhere to the slot, and I knew (Andrew Shaw) was driving the net. It ended up hitting a guy’s stick and think it bounced over the goalie’s pad perfect. It was lucky but nice to get us on the board.”
Kane’s run of points continues. The Blackhawks keep stringing together victories. And unlike in the afternoon, Raanta can rest easy Wednesday night.
“When you get the first couple of shots, you get that confidence you can play a good 60 minutes,” Raanta said. “In Washington in the preseason game, it was pretty awful when they scored on their first chances. So it’s nice to have that.”