Detroit welcomed the Calgary Flames into the Joe for a (real) Thanksgiving eve game which would mark the Red Wings' 20th and set the final piece of the Wings' first quarter of the season. The Flames came off an ugly performance in Columbus on Monday looking to improve on their 4-6 record in November. Flames' coach Brent Sutter had some tough words for his squad before the game about buying into the system. The teams kept the game tight, trading lead changes throughout, until the Wings took off in the third period and buried the Flames.
Detroit got on the board first on a typically Holmstromian tip-in while on the power play. Despite trailing, Calgary came on late in the period and took momentum into the 2nd, where they scored two goals in a span of 2:12 off the sticks of Jarome Iginla and Brendan Morrison. Fortunately, the lead was short-lived as Ian White tied it up about five minutes later.
The third started in favor of Detroit as Holmstrom earned his second power play goal of the game, but Olli Jokinen answered with one of his own to tie it back up. At that point, the refs remembered they had whistles and started calling just about everything they could in trying to reset their standard of officiating. Detroit got a 5-on-3 out of the mess and capitalized as Pavel Datsyuk banked a puck in off Jay Bouwmeester's foot. Just after the expiration of the second penalty, Valtteri Filppula added the insurance marker with a backhand top shelf shot.
Bullets after the jump
- The Wings outplayed the Flames overall, but this was a closer game than the final score let on. 30 shots to 22 does tell the story that the Wings created more, but they also made a lot of mistakes which led to good scoring chances. Speaking solely out of my box of cliches, I'm happy with everything the Wings did well, but I wanted that list of things to be longer.
- Among the things I wish went better for Detroit was the goaltending. Jimmy Howard made two fantastic saves and did a very good job keeping the puck out of the net on some slow whistles, but he gave up a softie and struggled with the puck a bit. I'm wondering if he's getting a bit fatigued by the fact that Ty Conklin hasn't gotten a start in a month.
- I know this is a Wings blog, so bear with me a second while the mind wanders: Brent Sutter read his team the riot act about playing as a team and having to give better effort. Then, when his team was down by two late in a close game, he keeps his goaltender in net without even trying to go for the extra skater and the offensive pressure. So who quit on who there? The Flames looked like they were skating hard and giving good effort. What the hell happened there? I really wouldn't be surprised to see Iginla asking Feaster for a way out soon.
- The zero shots on goal club was smaller than usual for the Wings tonight. It included Jakub Kindl (who joined the rush a few times) and Niklas Kronwall. Danny Cleary was the only forward who didn't register at least one. He was also a -2 on the night, despite playing well defensively.
- So that Ian White guy came back and that kind of sucked for Jeff Hancock because it eventually ended up meaning Brendan Smith wouldn't be playing live in front of him at the Joe. But, it was good for everybody else, as White notched a three-point night with a goal and two assists. He looked good, even with his big shield-jaw protector combo on.
- Speaking of Jeff, he sent me this picture of my early season man-crush Drew Miller (before a puck bounced up off his stick and made him look like he tried to suck-start a snowblower). Drew had a good game from the fourth line again.
- Hey, you know what would be cool? If the next game after I stick up for Jonathan Ericsson, he could capitalize on one of the TWO fantastic scoring opportunities he got fed when he made a cut into the zone and found himself open in the slot. Kronwall used to miss like that with maddening regularity too, but Red Wings nation never wanted to chuck car batteries at Kronwall the way they do with Ericsson. Here's a hint big guy: if you want people to stop hating you, try scoring on one of those, genius.
Overall, not a great game for the Red Wings, but it was a win that they needed. I just pray that nobody in the locker room (save for Datsyuk and White) is too incredibly happy with his performance. There were a lot of good individual plays, but the Flames didn't deserve three goals and they weren't all on Jimmy Howard, who is allowed the occasional off night. Player of the game voting is below.