Daily Herald
Hawks know closing out Calgary in the Saddledome won't be easy
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 4/27/2009 12:06 AM

Tonight's faceoff

Blackhawks vs. Calgary Flames at the Pengrowth Saddledome, 8:30 p.m.

TV: Comcast SportsNet

Radio: WIND 560-AM

At a glance: The Hawks haven't won a playoff series since 1996, but that would change with a victory tonight in Game 6 at the Saddledome. The Hawks' power play has become a factor in the series with 3 goals in the last two games. A win by the Flames would set the stage for a Game 7 at the United Center on Wednesday. A Hawks win sends them to the Western Conference semifinals.

Next: Calgary Flames at the United Center, if necessary, Wednesday. Time to be announced.

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Andrew Ladd has played in an elimination game in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Kris Versteeg has not.

But their thoughts are the same as the Blackhawks go for the knockout punch tonight against the Calgary Flames in Game 6 of the Western Conference quarterfinals.

The Hawks lead the best-of-seven series three games to two thanks to Saturday's convincing 5-1 win at the United Center, and they can advance to the West semifinals with a victory at the Saddledome.

"It's going to be the hardest game of the series," Ladd said. "We can't let those guys have any life. It's a game of momentum, and you can lose it very quickly."

The Hawks would appear to have all the momentum after their dismantling of the Flames in Game 5.

"I don't really know what it's like at this level, but in the minor leagues it was really tough to put a team away," Versteeg said. "I remember last year (at Rockford), that's the way it was. Now coming up to another level, I can only imagine it's magnified that much more and going to be that much tougher."

The Hawks were superior in every facet of Game 5, but the Flames promise they will be better. Calgary coach Mike Keenan blamed himself for not having his team ready to play in a game of such magnitude.

"We just weren't ready," Flames winger Mike Cammalleri said. "We've got a lot more to give than that."

Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who was a big factor in Games 3 and 4 in Calgary, was a no-show at the UC. He was minus-3 and had just 1 shot on goal.

"I was terrible," Iginla said. "There's no excuse for that. We'll be ready next game."

It's back to one of the most hostile environments in the NHL for the Hawks, who believe they learned a few things from the first two games in Calgary that were there for the taking in the third period.

"We've got to keep it simple," Cam Barker said. "They're obviously going to come hard and play a lot better than they did (Saturday). We've just got to be smart with the puck and put it in good places.

"We know we have to bring the same game to Calgary if we want to have a chance to win. We expected a long series out of these guys."

Without question the Hawks have been the more disciplined team in this series while playing with a physical edge, albeit more in the three games at home than on the road.

Early penalties by the Flames helped set a tone in Game 5.

The Flames dodged a bullet when the Hawks failed on a power play after penalty on Todd Bertuzzi for holding 61 seconds into the game. They weren't as fortunate after Cory Sarich cross checked Dave Bolland after a whistle at 7:50.

Brent Seabrook's power-play goal a little over a minute later got the huge UC crowd into the game. Seabrook's goal was the first of 3 the Hawks scored in a span of 1:49.

"The refs let us know after the first two games that they were going to be calling that," Barker said of the Sarich penalty. "We want to stay out of that and respond on the power play."

In that regard, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville is getting the best of Keenan.

"They're a rough team, a tough team, and they play a certain way," Seabrook said. "We just want to worry about ourselves and just play, and if we get power plays we want to capitalize on them."