The Red Wings traveled to Calgary for the last game of their coast-to-coast Canadian road trip. Detroit looked strong in victories against the Oilers and Canucks, and were attempting to sweep Western Canada with a victory over the Flames. Unfortunately, a rough first period and the inability by the team to preserve momentum doomed the Wings, who fell to the Flames 6-3.
Look, I need to come clean before we dive into this; it's been a long time since I've written one of these, and my dog just had knee surgery and decided that tonight was the night where she decided she was recovered, so my attention was a little diverted until her pain medication kicked in.
The Red Wings tried to get off to the same strong start that spurred their wins in Edmonton and Vancouver, but despite some quality chances they were unable to get a puck past Mike Smith early. Petr Mrazek was equally sharp in the first period, making a great save on Johnny Gaudreau to prevent Calgary from jumping out in front. However, the Flames struck first midway through the period. Jaromir Jagr led a rush in to the Wings' zone, and put a puck on net that Mrazek couldn't handle cleanly. The rebound bounced in off Mark Jankowski for his first NHL goal, and the Flames were off and running. The Flames added to their lead a few minutes later. Henrik Zetterberg lost a faceoff, and the puck found Gaudreau, who moved in to the high slot and took a shot through traffic and past Mrazek. The Wings had a couple of chances where Smith somehow kept the puck out of the net, and the Wings trailed after the first.
In the second, the Wings seemed to lose the structure and positioning that we saw in the last few games, and it cost them when Micheal Ferland picked up a turnover and scored a nice goal to give the Flames a 3-0 lead. The Wings got one back on the power play. Jeff Blashill went with the kid PP unit, and it paid off when some great puck movement saw the puck end up on Martin Frk's stick, who buried it to get the Wings back in it. The second period turned in to a real back and forth affair, with the teams trading goals. After Frk scored, Matthew Tkachuk tipped in a shot that was close to being a high stick to restore the 3-goal lead. Blashill challenged the play for goaltender interference, because no one knows what interference is these days, but the goal stood. After a failed power play, Anthony Mantha picked up his second assist of the night with a pretty pass to Frans Nielsen who got behind the Flames' defense. Once again, the 2-goal deficit couldn't be cut further as Jagr scored his first as a Flame after an odd-man rush with Gaudreau. Given the nature of the second period, it was no surprise that there was another goal, this one from Mantha as he buried a rebound for his third point of the night.
The third period began and the Wings got a power play early. Tomas Tatar had a few good chances, but the Wings were unable to capitalize. The Wings dominated the first 7 minutes, but could not get a goal to get within one. The Flames earned their second power play of the night when Frk was penalized, but the Wings killed it with little trouble. Detroit piled on the pressure, buzzing around the Calgary zone but unable to beat Smith. Nielsen nearly scored but his backhand hit the post. The Flames didn't provide much in the way of offensive pressure, but Jagr nearly sealed the win when his shot just missed high. Mrazek was pulled with a few minutes left, and Gaudreau took advantage of a Mantha turnover and scored the empty net goal to give Calgary the victory and drop the Wings' record on the road trip to 2-2.
- I fully anticipate the post-game quotes to include some variation of the "didn't start on time" theme. While they woke up after falling behind 3-0, it was too little too late.
- Despite giving up 5 goals, Mrazek wasn't really to blame for this one.
- The Wings fell behind too far too quickly, and they couldn't stem the tide when they appeared to be getting back in the game. However, there were some bright spots, especially the play of Frk, Nielsen, Athanasiou and Mantha, who is your player of the game with 3 points.
The Wings will fly back to Detroit for an extended homestand starting Saturday night against Columbus.