It was just one of those nights for the Red Wings: passes weren’t connecting, shots were going just wide of the net, skaters wound up just barely offside. You know. that kind of night. Meanwhile, the Calgary Flames were having the other kind of night, the kind when every shot goes into the net, the passes are just right, and each skater manages to be just out of the way of the other team’s checking. And so, the Red Wings took a 4-1 loss at the hands of Calgary.
The Flames are far from being a fluke team (they’ve beaten some of the top teams in the NHL recently in their push for playoff positioning), but it took a couple of flukey goals to give them the confidence they needed to beat Detroit. Stephane Yelle was first on the board at 6:49 of the first period. Henrik Zetterberg and Kirk Maltby had an accidental collision in the defensive zone, allowing Yelle to sneak in on the left side then cut to the net. When Jordan Leopold shoveled a centering pass out from the right corner, Yelle deflected the puck into the net with his left skate. Manny Legace protested that Yelle had kicked the puck, but the video goal judge ruled that there was no clear kicking motion.
Steve Montador scored the eventual game winner early in the second period. His shot from the blue line hit the crossbar, then the goalpost, then bounced into the net. Legace had been screened by Jamie Rivers and Marcus Nilson, so couldn’t see the puck until it was too late.
Calgary increased their lead just 29 seconds later. Chuck Kobasew carried the puck up the right side, chased by Steve Yzerman. Kobasew attempted to draw a hooking penalty, so Yzerman backed off to avoid the call””just enough so that Kobasew was able to send a pass through the goal crease. Meanwhile, Matthew Lombardi had been pushing towards the net under the watchful eye of Jiri Fischer. Fischer turned his back on Lombardi just as Kobasew’s pass came through the crease, and Lombardi was able to deflect the puck past Legace. Kirk Maltby beat Miikka Kiprusoff and got Detroit into the game with a screened wrist shot late in the second, but Craig Conroy negated that momentum shift with a goal off a two-on-one rush 44 seconds before the end of the period.
The Red Wings tried to break out of their funk in the third period, but again, the passes failed to click. Or the shots went just wide of the net. Kiprusoff was easily able to stop the seven third period shots which did make it through, keeping the lead for his team.
Detroit outshot Calgary by a count of 26 to 18. This was the Red Wings’ last home game for awhile: they open a five game road trip on Thursday evening when they visit the Phoenix Coyotes.
The good news: Kris Draper and Pavel Datsyuk both participated in this morning’s skate. The bad news: Derian Hatcher left the game in the third period with a shoulder injury and did not return.