The Red Wings came into the game flying high after winning in overtime against Vancouver and looked to climb another two points closer to hopefully clawing their way back into the playoff discussion. What they got instead was a bad sheet of ice mixed with a bad case of turnoveritis. An extremely late goal by Tomas Tatar earned them a point but they were not able to finish their second straight overtime game with a win despite an extremely entertaining extra session.
The Red Wings came out early and set the tone for the period by turning the puck over in their own zone and giving Calgary a dangerous chance that Petr Mrazek had to be sharp on less than 30 seconds into the game. A little back and forth between the two teams turned into the Red Wings first quality chance of the game as Henrik Zetterberg chipped a pass over a Flames defender and onto Anthony Mantha’s stick who came in all alone but Brian Elliot was up to the challenge and made the save. Shortly after that chance the Wings were able to break the Flames forecheck cleaning, one of the few times in the period, and were rewarded for it as Mantha got the puck up to Justin Abdelkader standing at the Flames blue line who found Darren Helm cross ice who walked into the Flames zone and snapped a wicked wrist shot over Elliot’s glove, off the far post and in for a 1-0 Red Wings lead.
Unfortunately, that lead would not last long as less than two minutes later Andreas Athanasiou would get his stick up high on T.J. Brodie and get a double minor high sticking call. Immediately off a clean faceoff win by Sean Monahan, Brodie slung a pass across to Kris Versteeg who drilled a one timer past Mrazek to tie the game up just four seconds into the power play. The Wings would kill off the rest of the penalty despite a few good chances by the Flames, who kept the pressure on the Wings on the forecheck and the Wings continued to have issues solving it. The pressure would pay dividends for Calgary as Niklas Kronwall bobbled a puck on a simple throw back by the forwards on a line change then panicked and tried to throw a blind backhand pass over to Nick Jensen that was taken by Mathew Tkachuk who walked in on Mrazek and froze him with a forehand before pulling the puck backhand and sliding it into a wide-open net for a 2-1 Flames lead.
The rest of the period was more of the same as the Flames continued to pressure the Red Wings on the forecheck and the Red Wings continued to have issues with it. Mercifully the period ended with the Red Wings only down 2-1 despite being outshot 17-9 and a constant barrage of defensive zone turnovers.
The Wings came out with a little more jump to start the period, using their speed and passing to breakdown the Flames aggressive forecheck and get some early opportunities. The Wings movement forced Calgary into their first penalty of the night as Mark Girordano slashed the stick out of Jensen’s hands. The Wings created a couple chances early on off the rush and a bit of a broken play/scramble in front of the net but could not generate anything real dangerous. Ken Daniels repeated several times that Calgary is the most penalized team in the NHL and true to form the Red Wings found themselves on the power play again almost immediately after the first one as Calgary was called for too man men. The Red Wings have had issues on the power play all season and the power play here was a microcosm of why. Early on they setup in the zone but the one shot they created was not particularly dangerous and missed the net anyways. They spent the rest of the power play trying different ways to not get the puck into the offensive zone at all.
Ultimately, despite the Red Wings dominating the Flames in shots in the period there never was a time when they were buzzing around the net or putting any real pressure on the Flames. The disparity in possession and shots really seemed to come more from Calgary being content just dumping the puck into the Wings zone and using their forecheck to try and create chances off turnovers than the Red Wings taking the play to them. The period would end the same as it began, 2-1 Calgary, but with the shot differential being in the Red Wings favor now 23-19.
Right out of the gate for the third, Jensen turned the puck over along the boards for another quality scoring chance by Calgary that again Mrazek came up big on. The Flames bend but don’t break, counter attacking style almost resulted in a game changing goal as a blocked shot turned into a break away by Johnny Gaudreau that forced Dan DeKeyser to hook him not once but twice and should have resulted in a penalty shot but ended “only” resulting in a power play for Calgary. Whether it was being upset with the ref not calling a penalty shot or feeling that they could ice the game with a goal on the power play, Calgary turned it on for the power play and have several chances but Mrazek was better. The Wings almost tied it up as a beautiful spinning tip by Tomas Tatar got behind Brian Elliot but it hit off the post and Tatar was not able to get his stick on it before his momentum carried him away from the net. Troy Brouwer got caught looking down coming out of the zone and Niklas Kronwall laid a mini Kronwalling on him. The Red Wings finally started to put more pressure on the Flames after pulling Mrazek, forcing a faceoff with just 15 seconds left. After the Red Wings took their timeout the Wings put more pressure on the Flames and are rewards for the effort this time as Zetterberg found Tatar low for a one timer that found its way past Elliot and into the net with less than a second left in the game. So for the second straight time the Wings go to overtime.
Overtime was the absolute opposite of regulation as both teams were able to use the extra space to their advantage. Tatar right away had a chance to end it but Elliot came up strong again. A loose puck at the blueline and a tired Darren Helm led to a Johnny Gaudreau breakaway that would have ended it but the puck bounced over his stick at the last second. The Wings were caught in their own zone for almost a full minute with Helm and Mantha exhausted to the point where neither could barely skate and Helm was bent over multiple times trying to catch his breath. Mrazek again held strong though and the Wings were able to get the puck out of their zone and force a faceoff in the Flames zone. Off the draw Ryan Sproul let loose an absolute cannon that Elliot somehow was able to hold onto. Mikael Backlund would end it though as he brought the puck in on a 2 on 1 and beat Mrazek short side with a perfectly placed shot, giving the Flames the 3-2 victory.
I do not know if it was something with the players, the equipment or the ice (Osgood mentioned several times that the iced seemed to be more snowy and choppy than it usually is in Calgary) but outside of Helm and occasionally Athanasiou the Red Wings skating looked slow and sloppy with several players losing their edge and falling down.
This team needs to figure out how to get out of their own zone before they will be contenders again. They have a lot of players who are at the best when they are pushing the pace of play up the ice and creating off of the rush yet the still continue to slow down their breakouts, play chip and chase into the zone and work to set up a cycle as their main go to on offense at even strength and with the man advantage. I would much rather see them try to play like they did in overtime all the time, even if it means the other team gets more odd man rushes and opportunities on the other end.
-For the love of all that is holy can they please retire the drop pass entry on the power play. It does not fool anyone and more times than not it just results in the Red Wings having to skate back into their zone to retrieve the puck 10 seconds later. I would rather see them chip and chase every single time because at least then the puck is getting deep into the offensive zone and when they have found any power play success this season it has come way more from broken plays than it has off of their power play setup.