DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings often looked like they had an extra man on the ice. Especially when the dangerous duo of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg made their appearance together.
The Red Wings used home-ice advantage to match top line against top line last night and managed to make the Calgary Flames trio look invisible during a 4-2 victory for the hosts at Joe Louis Arena.
"To be honest, they're a very good line. They create a lot, but we -- myself, Langks (Daymond Langkow) and (Alex) Tanguay -- matched up against them, and we weren't nearly good enough against them," said a sombre Jarome Iginla, who admitted he will have to be better if the Flames want to snap their early three-game winless slump.
"We play against good lines every night, and that's part of our job to have them thinking about us. We weren't a threat. We didn't create anything, so they'd just pick it up and go.
"They were way better than us tonight as a line, and it's not acceptable."
It's not exactly the way they wanted to start a four-game road trip, with tough dates in Dallas, Nashville and Denver still to come.
The Wings netted two powerplay goals and another with an extra attacker on a delayed call, but they did just as much damage to the Flames' egos at even strength.
"I thought we hurt ourselves on a couple of instances," said head coach Mike Keenan.
"We had some opportunities to be smarter defensively, and we weren't. As a result, we spent a little too much time in our own zone, and they're a dangerous team if you give them those opportunities. And we gave up a bad goal."
The bad goal was the opener by Zetterberg, who finished an easy one-timer set up by Datsyuk, after Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff mishandled a long backward pass from defenceman Cory Sarich and sent it right to the Russian inside the blueline.
The Flames hung in there on a pair of solo efforts from Kristian Huselius, hoping to give themselves a chance to pull off an ugly road win, but Kris Draper's tip-in winner late in the second period gave the hosts the lead for good.
Mikael Samuelsson's powerplay goal with less than five minutes to play sealed it.
"I thought when we came back, we got the momentum, worked hard and got some chances and played pretty well," said Huselius. "When they got the third, it kind of set us back a little bit, and we couldn't get going after that."
Anyone who saw a game here last spring would admit the Flames looked better in losing last night than in any of their playoff performances.
Keenan agreed, but was frank when asked if he was happy with the effort.
"No, not really. There's a lot more in the dressing room than we're seeing. I hope that there is, at least."