CHICAGO -- A night after Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Steve Montador shook off any poor training camp memories with a Gordie Howe hat trick, another slow starter had a big night.
Goalie Ray Emery notched his third win -- a 4-1 victory over the Calgary flames -- with a stellar 24 save effort. The Hawks have earned points in all four of his starts
“I thought Ray had a special game for us and was big in us getting two points,” coach Joel Quenneville said.
Emery was no lock to make the team, coming to camp on a tryout. He earned a contract despite many feeling his play wasn’t as good as prospect Alexander Salak. But Emery vowed to be better as the season went along -- and he has.
“You want to get more comfortable in there,” Emery said after the game. “I’m definitely working on things, trying to improve my game. It’s only the start, you just have to stay focused.”
Emery was simply where he needed to be to make the needed stops, many coming early.
“They buzzed around a bit at the start but we got a goal pretty early and added to in the second,” Emery said.
Emery is being humble. The Hawks seized the lead, but only after their goaltender did his part.
“He made some really big saves there,” Duncan Keith said. “Some odd man rushes where he was square to the shooter every time and made it look easy.”
His signature stop came in the second period with the game still in doubt. Leading 2-0, Steve Montador turned a puck over at the Hawks blue-line and Curtis Glencross of Calgary pounced on it with no one between him and Emery.
“I had a chance to kind of see the play develop so I got out and try to stay big,” he said. “I don’t think he had too much to shoot at so I was just trying to stay patient.”
The timing of the save wasn’t lost on the Hawks coach.
“It was a huge save,” Quenneville said. “Very timely. He was big in a lot of ways tonight. That was a huge save at that time. The game was pretty even, that could have turned it around.”
Emery nearly had the shutout but the Flames’ Olli Jokinen broke it up midway through the third period.
“No big deal,” Emery said. “I just want to win.”
A star of the game would have been nice as well. Emery wasn’t one of them much to the dismay of horseracing fan Quenneville.
“The inquiry light was lit when I saw that,” he joked.
No star of the game but Emery earned the championship belt, which is passed around by the team after each victory to the player most deserving.
And, of course he got the win, which is all the Hawks care about anyway.