CHICAGO – Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews scored 3:28 apart in the first period, and the NHL-leading Blackhawks beat the Calgary Flames, 3-1, on Friday night.
Marcus Kruger added a goal in the third period for the Hawks, who are 11-1-2 in their past 14 games. They (36-6-5) will wrap up the regular season tonight at St. Louis.
Corey Crawford was sharp in making 25 saves and keeping the Hawks in the lead throughout. The only goal he allowed was Chris Butler’s short-handed tally – Butler’s first goal in 65 games.
Joey MacDonald stopped 35 shots in the final game of the season for the Flames (19-25-4), who failed to qualify for the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
The Hawks clinched the Presidents’ Trophy, given to the NHL team with the best regular-season record, on Wednesday.
Kane and Toews both have a team-leading 23 goals. Kruger’s score was his first goal in 32 games.
The Flames skated without several injured regulars, including Alex Tanguay, Jiri Hudler, Curtis Glencross, Tim Jackman, and rookie Sven Baertschi. Calgary coach Bob Hartley was forced to use a lineup loaded with young players.
Hawks goalie Ray Emery, who is 17-1, sat out because of a lower body injury, so Carter Hutton backed up Crawford.
Entering the game, Crawford and Emery had combined to give the Hawks the NHL’s lowest team goal-against average at 1.97. The last time the Hawks led the NHL defensively was in the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season when Hall-of-Famer Ed Belfour played 42 games as their No. 1 goalie.
Kane gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead 9:34 into Friday’s game.
After Patrick Sharp’s shot toward an empty net deflected off the shaft of Calgary defenseman Mark Cundari’s stick, Sharp jumped on the loose puck behind the net. He fed Kane, who beat MacDonald on the short side from close range.
Toews made it 2-0 moments later when he swept into the crease and popped in a rebound of Brandon Saad’s shot from the slot.
The Blackhawks had several prime chances early in the second, but MacDonald turned them aside.
Butler cut it to 2-1 midway through the period with a screened high shot from 50 feet. The drive breezed past Calgary’s Ben Street and got past Crawford for his first goal in more than a year.
Crawford made a point-blank pad save on T.J. Brodie in the opening minute of the third, and another close-in stop on Matt Stajan’s tip-in attempt to keep the Blackhawks ahead.
Kruger extended Chicago’s lead to 3-1 at 7:06 with a shot from the right circle that beat MacDonald high on the stick side. It was his first goal since Feb. 15.
NOTES: Emery has been bothered by a lower body injury the past two weeks and hasn’t played a complete game since April 15. He started at Edmonton on Wednesday, but left the game with 6:11 left in the first period. ... Chicago C Dave Bolland missed his second game with a groin injury. ... The Blackhawks recalled nine players from Rockford of the AHL on Friday, but none played against the Flames. ... Baertschi sat out because of a groin injury. He had a seven-game point streak, with three goals and seven assists.