For the first time this season, the Calgary Flames have fallen three games below the .500 mark thanks to a 5-3 loss Wednesday night in Detroit. It was a game where Calgary lead in the second period and were even heading into the third, but it was also a game where the Flames made too many mistakes in tie game situations late in the contest. It’s now an 0-2 start to Calgary’s road trip.
A fairly decent start to the game saw Detroit open the scoring on their first powerplay of the evening (theme warning), thanks to Tomas Holmstrom. Parked in his usual spot in front of Miikka Kiprusoff, Holmstrom tipped home a Nicklas Lidstrom shot that was going wide at 6:14 for a one goal Detroit lead. Overall, it was a fairly evenly played period at even strength, but saw Detroit come away with a one goal lead and a 6-3 advantage in scoring chances.
The second period saw the Wings start a little flat and saw the Flames take full advantage. It started just 44 seconds in, with Calgary pouncing on a Detroit offensive zone turnover; on a 3-on-2 break, Jarome Iginla took a pass from Alex Tanguay and put it past Jimmy Howard for his sixth of the season. Brendan Morrison gave Calgary their first lead at 2:56 of the middle frame, firing a shot from the left wing that wouldn’t have been considered a scoring chance otherwise. His first on the season had the Flames feeling it, but it was a tad short lived. At 7:38 Ian White moved the puck from the point to the right side boards before fluttering a shot past Kiprusoff for his fourth on the year, getting us to a 3-3 tie after two periods.
Heading into the final frame, Calgary had the opportunity to win the period and, hence, win the game. Instead, they got themselves into penalty trouble and paid a steep price for it. On a Chris Butler hooking call of a faceoff, Holmstrom put home his second of the night from his regular spot, this time taking the puck in front of Kiprusoff and sliding it past him at 2:42. The Flames got that one right back, however, thanks to a powerplay goal of their own. Olli Jokinen received a gorgeous pass from T.J. Brodie at the tail end of a Justin Abdelkader holding call, just barely putting home his fifth at 5:06 and this game was tied once again. Then the wheels came off a tad. With the Red Wings having already 77 seconds of a Dan Cleary hooking call, Mark Giordano was flagged for tripping 33 seconds before Curtis Glencross took a numbskull slashing call. With an extended 5-on-3, Detroit got their lead back with Pavel Datsyuk banking a pass in off Jay Bouwmeester at 12:39 for a one goal lead. The Red Wings made it a two goal lead right as Glencross was coming out of the box, as Valtteri Filppula would score number four on the season taking us to our final score.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames lost? An awful penalty kill. Heading into this game, Calgary had allowed seven powerplay goals in their last ten games, clicking at around 81%, which put them in the bottom half of the league. On this night, they allowed three powerplay goals on four opportunities, including two (essentially three) in the final frame. In a game where they were tied after 40, regardless of if it should have been there or not, they made some unacceptable mistakes and ended up losing the game as a result.
I’ll go Brendan Morrison, who scored in his return and had some decent shifts on his line with Tim Jackman and Tom Kostopoulos. While they didn’t generate a ton in terms of chances, they did some really good work against Emmerton’s line when they were matched up. The top six didn’t pull their weight, or even close to it in some cases, but the bottom six had a strong night overall.
Sum It Up
Look, Detroit was better after 40 minutes but Calgary was all even on the scoreboard. No one is saying they would have definitely won that hockey game, but at least don’t lose it. That’s exactly what they did, making life far too easy on their high flying opponents. They’re now three games below .500, which is close to as bad as they were last season. At their worst, Calgary was four games below even last year, following their loss in Columbus on December 21st.