Emery lifts Blackhawks to shootout victory over Flames

Quenneville: We know the meaning of those 2 points is tremendous

Emery lifts Blackhawks to shootout victory over Flames
February 3, 2013, 12:30 am
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CALGARY, Alberta – Ray Emery doesn’t care about the number of shots he has to face on a start. For him, it’s only one number, in a certain column, that counts.

“I’m one of those goalies who likes to win,” he said. “However we go about that, be it 10 shots or 40 shots, it doesn’t matter.”

Good thing, because Emery faced a massive amount of shots. And time after time, the Blackhawks’ backup goaltender was masterful at getting that ‘W’.

Emery made a career-high 45 saves on a career-high 47 shots faced, and the Blackhawks came back to claim a 3-2 shootout victory over the Calgary Flames on Saturday night. The Blackhawks, who were without Dave Bolland – he’s day to day and could play against San Jose on Tuesday -- improved to 7-0-2. They lead the Western Conference by one point over the San Jose Sharks, who suffered their first defeat, albeit in extra time, on Saturday.

It was a tremendous performance for Emery, who saw as many shots tonight as the Blackhawks gave up in their last two games against Vancouver and Minnesota, combined. And from coach Joel Quenneville to the players, everyone knew that Emery was the only reason the Blackhawks were even in this one.

“That was criminal. You have to call the cops after that performance,” Quenneville said. “We stole two points, and he was spectacular. I’ve never been outplayed, out-chanced like that in my life. It was a special performance.”

Patrick Kane ended the Blackhawks’ shootout drought, slipping a backhand 5-hole on Calgary goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff. Marian Hossa’s goal with just three seconds remaining in regulation forced overtime, but make no mistake – the Blackhawks don’t get a sniff at extra time if not for Emery.

“We obviously got outplayed and shouldn’t have won that game. (Emery) was the only reason he did,” Kane said. “It’s good to see for a backup goaltender, and we have confidence in him. He played unbelievable. The two points go to him.”

The Blackhawks played their ninth game in 15 days on Saturday, and that schedule, the three back-to-backs and the far-flung travel may have caught up to them. They were sloppy, struggling with their passes and allowing far too many shots.

Enter Emery. His first game this season was a rusty 6-4 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes but there was none of that on Saturday, when he was stellar from the start. Still, he saved his best for the third period when the Flames fired 24 shots at him. Dennis Wideman and Jay Bouwmeester were the only Flames to solve him – and Wideman’s goal actually went off Brent Seabrook’s skate.

“I don’t know when the last time was I saw a goaltending performance as good as that,” said Jamal Mayers, who played in his 900th career NHL game. “He was spectacular tonight. He’s the reason why we won, plain and simple.”

Indeed, but the Blackhawks still had to do something on the shootout, their third in as many games. Stymied against Minnesota and Vancouver, the Blackhawks finally got that elusive shootout goal from Kane, who watched what Kiprusoff did against Jonathan Toews first.

“Johnny gave me a good read, just watching the replay there, and what Kiprusoff did. And he bit,” Kane said. “I thought the 5-hole opened when Johnny went down on him, so thought I’d take advantage of that. I guess we only needed one.”

They only needed one because Emery made one more stop on the other end, on Roman Cervenka’s snap shot.

For Emery, it’s not about the shots he faces, it’s about the win. He had to see a lot of the former to earn the latter. But earn it he did, and the Blackhawks are thankful for it.

“I warned our team that this would be the toughest of the nine we’ve played so far. And we had our hands full,” Quenneville said. “Ray was spectacular.”