The Detroit Red Wings evened their first round playoff series with a 4-2 victory over the Calgary Flames Thursday night. The teams have now won two games each as they come back to Detroit for Game Five on Saturday afternoon.
The talk of the game was officiating, as the Red Wings had only one power play in the game, the only call on the Flames that couldn’t be ignored.
With the Red Wings leading, 4-2, and just four seconds remaining in the game, Calgary agitator Ville Nieminen skated in without the puck at Red Wings goalie Curtis Joseph and threw an elbow to his head. Officials ushered the smiling Nieminen off the ice before Detroit enforcer Darren McCarty could settle the score.
Twenty seconds earlier, the Red Wings sealed their victory with an empty-net goal by Henrik Zetterberg.
Detroit had opened the scoring with the first first-period goal of the series for either team. Only 26 seconds into the game, Kris Draper carried the puck behind the Calgary goal and sent a pass out from the right side of Flames’ goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. Kirk Maltby came into the slot to get the pass and one-timed a shot into the net to give the Red Wings the early lead.
Detroit expanded their lead three minutes into the second period on a goal by Boyd Devereaux. Devereaux, inserted into the lineup for only the second time this postseason, twice held the puck in the Flames zone before getting the puck to Kris Draper as he skated through the right faceoff circle. Draper gave the puck to Ray Whitney, who took it to the bottom of the circle before sending it back up top to Devereaux, who one-timed a long shot past Kiprusoff to put the Red Wings up by two.
The Flames struck twice in 18 seconds to tie the game. At 5:45 of the second, Martin Gelinas got a loose puck at the side of the net and poked it by Joseph, who was attempting a poke-check. At 6:03, Nieminen was left all alone in front of Joseph and outwaited him before lifting the puck over his glove.
The Red Wings regained the lead just past the midway point of the third period. With 9:58 remaining in the game, Tomas Holmstrom put the puck between Kiprusoff’s pads. Defenseman Mathieu Dandenault pinched in and reached behind Kiprusoff to knock the puck over the goal line, scoring the eventual game-winner.
Detrit outshot Calgary, 29-27. Joseph and Kiprusoff each made 25 saves. The Red Wings did not score on their three-second “power play” at the end of the game and the Flames were held scoreless in their two tries with the man-advantage.
The NHL will likely review Nieminen’s actions at the end of the game. A suspension could be handed down from the league offices but the chances of that happening were unknown as the game came to a close.
Curtis Joseph celebrated his 37th birthday with the win Thursday night, just one day after Nicklas Lidstrom turned 34.