Chicago Blackhawks' Tuomo Ruutu, left, of Finland, battles for the puck with Calgary Flames' Matthew Lombardi during the first period of an NHL hockey game on Sunday. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Nam Y. Huh
CHICAGO - Light-scoring Calgary defenceman Cory Sarich netted the pivotal go-ahead goal in a game highlighted by standout goalie play on Sunday night.
But not even Sarich was exactly sure how he beat Chicago's Nikolai Khabibulin to snap a 1-1 tie, helping the Flames beat the Blackhawks 3-2 and handing Chicago its season-high fourth straight loss.
It appeared that Sarich's shot from the right point was deflected - by someone.
"That's the way they usually go in for me," Sarich said. "All I could see is it hit a Chicago player, maybe (Magnus) Johansson, but I'm not exactly sure. As long as they go in."
The goal was only Sarich's second this season and 12th of his career in 566 games.
Calgary's Daymond Langkow scored a power-play goal from the left point with 6:08 left to make it 3-1. Chicago's Dustin Byfuglien then scored 47 second later on a backhand shot from the slot to complete the scoring.
Owen Nolan also scored for the Flames, who got 35 saves - including several close-in stops - from Miikka Kiprusoff.
Robert Lang also scored for the Blackhawks. Khabibulin blocked 26 shots, including several difficult chances.
Despite the late scoring flurry, Kiprusoff and Khabibulin were the contest's most visible players. Khabibulin was especially good early, before allowing the goals on long-range shots in the third that decided the outcome.
Kiprusoff was at his best in the final period. He stopped Patrick Sharp's tip-in attempt at 5:11 of the third with his mask. In the final seconds, Kiprusoff made a sprawling save on Sharp to preserve the win.
"Sometimes, if you don't know where the puck is, it's best to lay down and hope it's under you," Kiprusoff said. "Everyone was jumping, but I knew the puck was under me."
"It was a tight game and Miikka gave us a fantastic game tonight," Calgary coach Mike Keenan said, "Earlier this season, he struggled a little bit, but this was a good road game for us."
The Flames, who are trying to climb back into the Western Conference playoff hunt, began a season-high, six-game road trip on Sunday.
"We're playing teams we have to catch and this is a good way to start,' Calgary's Jarome Iginla said. "Sarich's goal was a big goal and after that, we were pretty solid. They put a lot of pressure on us."
The Blackhawks, who have enjoyed a resurgent season so far, may be facing their first significant tailspin. But coach Denis Savard isn't panicking.
"We're playing good," Savard said. "It's goaltending against us, period. We dominated the third period until they scored.
"We've got to stay together and stay up," he added. "The effort is there. We've got to make our own luck, but it's not about effort, it's not about chances. We'll get out of this and in the long run, it will be better off for us."
Lang scored the only goal of the first period, at 10:50, on a deflection of Byfuglien's shot from the top of the left circle.
Byfuglien made a stickhandling move around Calgary's Dustin Boyd at the left point, then stepped in and launched a drive that Lang tipped from the right side of the crease.
Khabibulin made close-in stops on Langkow midway through the first and on Iginla with 39 seconds left.
Nolan ripped a slapshot from left wing that sailed over Khabibulin's glove and landed in the upper right-hand corner of the net for the lone goal of the second, at 7:57, to tie it at 1.
Sharp's tip-in attempt during a Blackhawks' power play at 5:11 of the third struck Kiprusoff in the mask. He wasn't injured and went on to make several additional tough saves.