CALGARY — Chicago Blackhawks rookie goalie Jaxson Stauber is playing like a veteran even though he's just two games into his NHL career.
Stauber made 34 stops for his second straight win and 13 different players contributed a point as the Blackhawks beat the Calgary Flames 5-1 on Thursday.
"Looks really solid and calm in there,” said Chicago coach Luke Richardson. “They're a big team and they get to the net and they're trying to get secondary chances. He just makes a save and even if there's some scrambling going on, he doesn't look scrambly.”
With Alex Stalock (concussion) injured, Stauber and veteran Petr Mrazek are left to tend the net for Chicago. Stauber made his NHL debut on Saturday in a 5-3 win in St. Louis.
“He's had two really good showings here. Hopefully he just gets more comfortable as he goes,” said Richardson.
The undrafted 23-year-old is in his first pro season after signing with the Blackhawks as a free agent last March. He spent two years with Providence College in the NCAA and began this season with AHL Rockford.
"He was calm, cool, collected. He's been like that ever since he got called up,” said Chicago forward Colin Blackwell. “You can tell he's just locked in all the time. His routine from right when he gets on the bus, he's pretty dialed in.”
Tied 1-1 after 20 minutes, Chicago seized control in the second period with three unanswered goals.
Boris Katchouk's one-timer of a Luke Philp pass put the Blackhawks back into the lead.
The visitors made it a two-goal lead at 15:37 when both Flames defencemen Nikita Zadorov and MacKenzie Weeger went to Patrick Kane, leaving the middle of the ice open. Kane's pass sent Jason Dickinson in alone and he beat Jacob Markstrom over his shoulder.
Dickinson bumped up from third-line winger to first-line centre for the game due to captain Jonathan Toews (non-COVID illness) being unable to play. That meant centring Kane and Andreas Athanasiou.
"You've got to understand that (Kane) is going to be a lot more patient with the puck and poised and make some plays you probably wouldn't think were there,” Dickinson said. “He sees the ice extremely well and he makes some unbelievable passes. “
Just 32 seconds later, another defensive miscue from the Flames resulted in a two-on-one rush with Blackwell setting up Sam Lafferty for his eighth goal of the season.
Taylor Raddysh and Connor Murphy, into an empty net, also scored for Chicago (15-28-4), which entered the game last in the NHL's overall standings. Max Domi had an assist to extend his point streak to four games (one goal, three assists).
Jonathan Huberdeau had the lone goal for Calgary (23-17-9). The Flames sit outside of a playoff spot in the Western Conference after finishing atop the Pacific Division last season.
The Flames are back in action Friday night when they take on the division-leading Kraken in Seattle in their last game before the all-star break.
“It's a big game to start with and now it's an even bigger game for us,” said Flames centre Mikael Backlund. “We want to finish off well before the break and feel a little better about ourselves, especially after the way things went tonight.”
Markstrom had 24 stops for the Flames. His record fell to 13-13-5. On 10 occasions this season, Markstrom has received one or no goals for support.
“Obviously it's unacceptable,” said Huberdeau. “The way we came out and the way we played, too many odd-man rushes. They had so many chances. I feel bad for (Markstrom) because he's been playing (well) lately and we're not playing good in front of him.”
The scattered booing from disgruntled fans throughout the third period was at its loudest at the final buzzer as Calgary players left the ice.
“We made some glaring errors on the back end that cost us goals against,” said Flames coach Darryl Sutter. “You've got some defencemen that even though they're younger guys, they also have to take some leadership in it too in terms of direction and poise.”
TOEWS AND TANEV OUT
Both teams were missing key players. Calgary defenceman Chris Tanev (upper body) was out. His spot was taken by Connor Mackey, a healthy scratch the last 16 games.
Philp was inserted into the lineup for Toews and recorded his first NHL point.
MILESTONE FOR TOFFOLI
Tyler Toffoli played in the 700th game of his career. He has played 86 games for the Flames.
Toffoli has also played for Los Angeles (515), Vancouver (10) and Montreal (89).
Blackhawks: Wrap up a three-game road trip on Saturday in Edmonton.
Flames: Are back in action Friday night in Seattle.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2023.
Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press