Well, I’ll leave the Miikka Kiprusoff stuff for later on, because that will most likely dominate the comments section tonight, but the Calgary Flames really did play a strong hockey game but ended up falling 5-4 in a shootout to the Detroit Red Wings. It’s another heartbreaker to the Wings, and a tough loss to take, but it also yielded some positives; specifically Calgary’s play at 5-on-5.
After a quick start for the Red Wings with a couple quality chances, the Flames really did start to tilt the ice, something they’d do for a lot of the remaining portion of the game. Calgary opened the scoring at 8:43 thanks to Curtis Glencross, who started off a superb night with his eighth of the season at 8:43. It was the first goal since late November for Glencross, but it was covered off at 15:58 thanks to Darren Helm. Helm’s fourth wasn’t a pretty one though. It came from nearly the side of the net and was the first of a few, um, bothersome goals allowed by the goaltender. But the Flames picked their goalie up late in the frame, as Jarome Iginla scored a weak one of his own with ten second remaining. Iginla stuffed the puck home on a wrap around for his 17th, and the Flames took a 2-1 lead into the middle frame. Calgary had the edge on scoring chances in a big way, another trend that would continue…Kent had them counted at 7-3.
The second period saw the Wings tie it early, on another goal that can’t go in. Brian Rafalski’s shot from just inside the blueline 41 seconds in tied the game up; it was certainly re-directed in front, but from that far out, needed to be stopped regardless. But once again the Flames picked their goalie up, thanks to Glencross again. His ninth, and second of the game, came on a weird scramble which saw Wings goalie Jimmy Howard down and out…Curtis ripped it shelf from the low left circle to restore Calgary’s one goal lead. That lead would bulge to two on the powerplay at 11:33 on Anton Babchuk’s monster shot from the point. It was a no-doubter and the Flames really were full marks for their 4-2 lead. And then some penalty trouble late in the period had the lead down to one; Jiri Hudler fired a cross seam pass to Patrick Eaves with 18 seconds remaining and Eaves made no mistake; a powerplay goal had the Wings within one heading into the final frame.
Calgary’s start was pretty good protecting a one goal lead and then the tying goal game; and it was solely on Miikka Kiprusoff once again, as he’d allow another softy from Rafalski to tie this game at four. Detroit would have a few other chances in the third period, and some pretty good powerplay time, but they were unable to find the winning goal. Calgary buzzed in the final minute or so, almost getting the winner themselves but this was off to overtime.
The Flames had the puck for almost all of the extra frame, firing six shots on net, four of them for scoring chances, but Howard really came to play. He was calm, composed, and made a huge stop robbing Jarome Iginla on a powerplay one-timer. So, 65 minutes wasn’t enough (although it should have been), and off to a shootout we went. Detroit’s Todd Bertuzzi scored the only goal while Alex Tanguay, Niklas Hagman and Rene Bourque were all stopped. A game Calgary really was better in yielded them just one point, as the Flames fell 5-4.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames lost? Four words: Bad goaltending; skills competition. Seriously, it’s that simple. Calgary held the Red Wings to six even strength scoring chances, generating 18 of their own, and really did work the Wings for long stretches of the hockey game. But, three (THREE) bad goals from Kiprusoff let the Wings hang around in this game, and they won in a coin flip shootout. It’s a real shame results wise, but in the end, the way the Flames played at even strength really was positive. They were straight ahead and strong on the forecheck, and helped to make Detroit a complete rodeo in their own end. They converted on scoring chances, they were pretty good on the kill, and they scored on the powerplay. Not much more the Flames could have done on this night; they simply were unfortunate to lose while the Wings were fortunate to win.
No question, Curtis Glencross. Just an absolute whale of a game for the guy, who had just one point in his previous 17 games prior to his three tonight. Glencross was all over the ice, played strong on the PK and even strength, and was a factor seemingly every time he was on the ice. Does this mean Curtis Glencross is back? Um, no, not prepared to say that…but it sure was an indicator of what the guy can do when he’s motivated.
Sum It Up
Unlucky. Unfortunate. Too bad. Take your pick, the Flames were the better team on Friday night against Detroit. This was not the same effort from Wednesday night in Vancouver. This was a Flames team skating and pushing the play for 60 minutes, and they put four goals up…it should have been enough for the win. It wasn’t. Jarome Iginla said afterwards they had to make sure they carried over their strong 5-on-5 play into their upcoming trip; I know a whole lot of people would love to see that.