CALGARY – Calgary centre Olli Jokinen played his best game on home ice since the trade from Phoenix and Eric Nystrom added the winner as the Flames beat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 on Monday.
Their best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final series heads back to Chicago even 2-2. Game 5 is Saturday at the United Center (9 p.m. ET) before returning to Calgary for Game 6 on Monday.
Jokinen led Calgary with two goals and an assist. He ended a 16-game goal drought with his first career playoff goals and first goals at the Pengrowth Saddledome since his trade from the Coyotes at the March 3 trade deadline.
Flames captain Jarome Iginla also had a pair for Calgary, including the empty-netter, to go along with an assist. Defenceman Adrian Aucoin also scored in front of a sea of red-clad fans.
Kris Versteeg, a nominee for the NHL’s rookie award this year, had a goal and two assists for Chicago. Patrick Kane, who sat out Monday’s Game 3 with the flu, and Sammy Pahlsson also scored for the Blackhawks.
Game 4 wasn’t a goaltending classic by either Miikka Kiprusoff or Chicago counterpart Nikolaia Khabibulin as both gave up rebounds that led to goals. Kiprusoff made 28 saves for his second straight win, while Khabibulin turned away 22 shots
The series continued a theme of the team that scores first in the game ends up the loser.
Flames winger Rene Bourque, who was said to be day to day after Adam Burish broke his stick over his shoulder at the end of Game 3, participated in the pre-game skate, but was scratched from the lineup.
The Flames missed Bourque’s penalty-killing prowess as Chicago scored a pair of power-play goals in the second period while charging back from a three-goal deficit.
Curtis Glencross replaced Bourque on a line with centre Craig Conroy and Iginla to start the game. Conroy did not play after the first period due to injury, which gave Jokinen more minutes on Calgary’s top forward unit.
Calgary’s 4-2 win in Game 3 ended with 64 penalty minutes in the final minute because the Burish cross-check to Bourque and the ensuing melee in front of the Chicago bench.
Punching and nasty stick work away from the play continued Wednesday and there were the requisite headlocks and face-washing around the nets after whistles.
But with the game tied 1-1 and 4-4 at period breaks, the stakes were too high for either team to let their emotions get out of hand.
Calgary failed to protect leads in their two losses in Chicago and after scoring three times to take a 4-1 lead in the second, the Blackhawks answered with three of their own to pull even.
Nystrom banged in a rebound off Cory Sarich’s point shot at 13:04 of the third for the eventual winner.
With burly teammate Dustin Byfuglien parked in front of Calgary’s net, Pahlsson’s shot from the point beat Kiprusoff for a power-play at 19:27 of the second period.
Pahlsson was left unchecked at the boards and he threw the puck to centre for Barker to tip in at 16:44 and atone for an earlier giveaway that led to a Calgary goal.
Kiprusoff’s juicy rebound on Brian Campbell’s blast from the blue-line gave Versteeg a wide-open net for a power-play goal at 12:13.
Jokinen’s burst of speed from the top of the faceoff circles gave him enough room on Calgary defenceman Brent Seabrook to get a backhand shot by him and Khabibulin at 9:16.
Aucoin made it 3-1 for the Flames by threading a wrist from the point through traffic on Khabibulin at 9:10.
Jokinen’s first career playoff goal was a gift as Barker whiffed a pass from the corner. Jokinen made the most of the turnover to put Calgary up 2-1 just 56 seconds into the second period.
The two clubs traded goals in the opening six minutes and emerged from the first period tied for the second game in a row.
The Flames outshot the ‘Hawks 13-8 in the opening frame, but Chicago carried a 21-18 edge in shots heading into the third.
Mike Cammalleri circled out from the boards and tapped the puck over to Iginla, who beat Khabibulin from the faceoff circle for a power-play goal and his second of the playoffs at 5:47.
Kane struck at 4:40. Patrick Sharp skated deep down the wing and backhanded a drop pass back to the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NHL draft in the slot. Kane beat Kiprusoff with a wrist shot.