The Detroit Red Wings (19-4-4) swept their four-game homestand with a 4-3 overtime win over the Calgary Flames (16-11-1). As in the last game, their opponent took a first period lead and it required a strong effort by the Wings to first get back into the game and then win it in extra time.
Calgary's Craig Conroy and Daymond Langkow both scored with less than five minutes remaining in the first. Former Red Wing Todd Bertuzzi actually did most of the work on the second goal, but Langkow pounced on the rebound. Detroit had a poor first period and was outshot 14-10. What made the better start by Calgary even more surprising was that the team didn't arrive in Detroit until 4am after losing in Montreal the night before.
After a slow start by Detroit, head coach Mike Babcock shuffled both the defensive and offensive lines up to energize his team. (If you want to see what those new lines looked like, head to the comment section of this post.) Red Wing forward Valtteri Filppula scored the only goal of the second period when he tipped in a Kris Draper shot 6:59 into the frame.
Plenty of action came in the third period starting off with a power-play backhand goal by University of Michigan alum David Moss. Defenseman Dion Phaneuf earned his 20th assist of the season when he took a slapshot from the point. Exactly a minute later, Henrik Zetterberg made a backhanded play of his own to bring Detroit within one.
With 7:13 remaining in the game, Brian Rafalski took a slapshot from just above the right face-off circle to even the game up at three goals apiece and eventually send the game into overtime. While Flames goaltender Curtis McElhinney played a great game with 35 saves, forward Johan Franzen screened him on Rafalski's shot. As Babcock told Ansar Khan for MLive.com, goalies in the NHL are great players and you need to block their view to score. So it's not surprising that our last two goals came on slapshots from the point with a screen down low.
"They (goalies) are all too good, they stop the puck if they can see it," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "Sometimes when you're trying to skill yourself around the rink you don't have that. If you're going to win in today's NHL you got to have people at the net and you got to get the puck there on a continual basis."
Captain Nicklas Lidstrom took what appeared to be pretty much the same shot as Rafalski (except with his left hand and a few feet to the left) and scored the game-winning goal 3:50 into overtime to prevent a second straight game ending in the shootout.
According to FS Detroit play-by-play announcer Ken Daniels, the Wings have now played in 18 of their 27 games with just one goal making the difference in the game's outcome. While these close games certainly make it more interesting, I'd love to see the Wings come out stronger in the first period than they have of late but I love getting another "W" and getting those two points!
The Wings will go on the road for back-to-back games against Dallas and Phoenix (Fri/Sat) before returning home for a game against the Avs on Monday.