A dagger to the heart

We’ll never know for sure what effect it could have had on Monday’s game at the Saddledome, of course, but what if a team had the option of choosing that a minor penalty be assessed to the opposition instead of accepting a penalty shot? Maybe, just maybe, it would have been the difference between a win and a loss for the Flames in their crucial contest against the Detroit Red Wings.

In the second period, with the Flames leading 1-0, Flames winger Curtis Glencross sprinted off on a partial brekaway while killing a penalty. He was hooked by Jason Williams on the play, which reuslted in a penalty-shot call instead of a two-minute infraction that would have wiped out the rest of Detroit’s man advantage.

Glencross was stuffed by Jimmy Howard, the Wings went back on the power play and Pavel Datsyuk promptly scored the equalizer. The end result of that titanic momentum shift was a 2-1 Red Wings that keeps the Flames in ninth place in the Western Conference.

The Flames were starting to feel pretty good about themselves after a four-game winning streak but two losses in 26 hours has them gasping for air once again. A cruel twist of fate perhaps, but also the wages of the sins committed during that dreadful three-month stretch of hockey turned in by the Flames in December, January and Fenruary.

Tomas Holmstrom, who was doing his human eclipse routine on the Datsyuk goal, tipped in the game-winner with 1:19 to play in regulation. Craig Conroy scored the only Calgary goal. In addition to accounting for the hosts’ offence, Conroy provided faceoff-dot wizardry (he was 12-for-12) and timely bleeding (he took a high stick that give the Flames four-minute power play).

Even if the penalties were few on the night, the Flames got clobbered on special teams. They whiffed on their four power-play chances and looked awful doing so. They also came up empty on Glencross’ penalty shot. Meanwhile, the Red Wings capitalized on their one and only man-advantage opportunity.

Flames lines

Bourque-Stajan-Iginla
Hagman-Langkow-Kotalik
Dawes-Conroy-Moss
Nystrom-Mayers-Glencross

Defence pairings

Giordano-Sarich
Bouwmeester-Staios
Regehr-White

Three Stars

  1. Tomas Holmstrom
  2. Craig Conroy
  3. Drew Miller

Fight Card

There was nothing doing in this category.

The Big Save

Miikka Kiprusoff preserved a 1-0 Flames lead in the first period by making a pad stop on Drew Miller from point-blank range and then smothering the rebound as it slid dangerously through the slot.

The Big Hit

Detroit’s Tomas Holmstrom, many strides away from the relative safety of his home in the slot, was streaking down the left wing in the offensive zone when he was steamrolled by Flames blue-liner Mark Giordano.

What It Means

Calgary misses out on a chance to leapfrog the Red Wings for the eighth and final playoff position in the Western Conference. The Wings earn a split of the four-game season series.

What’s Next

The Flames are back on the road as they travel to Denver on Wednesday to face an Avalanche team they have dominated in every way but the scoreboard so far this season.