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Fleury, Flames Fly Past Chicago

Theoren Fleury and the Calgary Flames had a simple plan for beating the Chicago Blackhawks -- jump on them early like teams have been doing all season.

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  • "We knew coming in they struggled in the first period at home. We wanted to make it tough for Chris Chelios and get in his face like every team does in the league," said Fleury after his three goals sparked a 4-1 Calgary victory Sunday night over the frustrated Blackhawks.

    It was Fleury's second hat trick of the season and 13th of his career.

    Fleury eluded Chelios' stick check and beat Jeff Hackett with a slap shot for the game's first goal just a minute in as Calgary built a 3-0 lead in the opening period. He added a first-period power-play goal and then an empty netter with eight seconds left.

    "When I get the opportunity, I have to put the puck into the net and fortunately for me tonight it did go in," Fleury said.

    The final period was marked by several skirmishes and Chelios was assessed a 10-minute misconduct for throwing a punch at the 5-foot-6 Fleury.

    Chicago has lost three in a row, and for the second consecutive game, the Blackhawks surrendered three goals in the opening 20 minutes. They have been outscored 16-6 in the first period this season.

    After falling into the three-goal hole, the Blackhawks skated off the ice after the first period to a loud chorus of boos from a relatively small crowd of 15,034 at the United Center. There were 5,000 empty seats.

    "I have no idea why. It's the same as the last game, I guess. We can't keep coming up with excuses," said Chelios, trying to explain the slow starts.

    "We have to get better. We've just got to start winning. We've got the players here and we're just not doing it."

    leury has 40 points, including 16 goals, in 35 career games against the Blackhawks. He had three goals and three assists in the first two games this season but had fallen off offensively.

    "It was a big game for Theo, especially since everybody has been on his case for him not contributing offensively. But I never rate Theo by what he contributes on offense," Calgary coach Brian Sutter said.

    "He's an intimidating kid to play against because he plays like he's 6-foot-6. He's not afraid of anything. When he's playing well, he skates. And if you skate, things are going to happen and they happened for him tonight."

    After Fleury's first two goals, his fifth and sixth of the season, Todd Simpson made it 3-0 with a slap shot, seconds after a faceoff.

    Chicago's Eric Daze, who'd missed the three previous games with an ankle injury, scored on the power play in the second, taking a centering pass from Doug Gilmour and beating Ken Wregget from the crease.

    It was the teams' first meeting since a five-player trade last Tuesday.

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