DETROIT - It wasn’t exactly according to plan.
Despite some great goaltending from Miikka Kiprusoff, enough offence to win their share of games — including a rare score from the powerplay — the Calgary Flames couldn’t escape Motor City with another victory.
A couple of nights after being torn into by head coach Brent Sutter, the Flames played an inconsistent 60 minutes once again. There was effort but also too many mistakes to overcome against a Red Wings squad that is making the kind of charge up the NHL’s Western Conference standings the Flames had hoped to begin on their current four-game road trip.
So far, they’re 0-2 thanks to a 5-3 loss Wednesday night.
One of the worst moments was Curtis Glencross’ slash in the third period, which put the Wings on a two-man powerplay and helped stake the hosts to a 4-3 lead when Pavel Datsyuk’s pass to the crease banked under Kiprusoff off Jay Bouwmeester’s boot.
Still on the powerplay moments later, Wings winger Valtteri Filppula added the insurance marker, and Glencross didn’t see the ice from there.
Needing to be nearly flawless to beat the talented Red Wings, things got off to a decent start for the Flames.
They managed a pretty even first period, with eight shots apiece, and the Flames only trailed by one at the first intermission.
After gaining the lead on tallies from veterans Jarome Iginla and Brendan Morrison, though, they started to slip a little.
Lasting less than five minutes, a one-goal advantage was gone when Wings defenceman Ian White knocked in a long shot through a screen that snuck in the far side to square things up 2-2.
Thanks to Kiprusoff, the deficit didn’t grow until early in the third when Holmstrom was up to his old tricks, tucking the puck around the Flames netminder on the powerplay to make it 3-2 Wings.
Olli Jokinen answered that one during what became a really wide-open and entertaining final frame.
There were plenty of nice moments for the Flames at The Joe.
Iginla scored his sixth of the season — and third in his pair of visits to Detroit this month — sticking a snapshot through Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard’s pads to tie things up at 1-1 less than a minute into the second period. Maybe less obvious were his defensive efforts, which were definitely on the upswing.
Morrison also found the back of the net, ending a drought extended for months after missing the last month of last season because of a torn knee ligament that was surgically repaired in April. After attempting a comeback in October and going eight games without a single point, Morrison was shelved for a couple of extra weeks to get his confidence back in the knee.
The second comeback attempt has started out a little more positive thanks to his slapshot from inside the left circle that found its way in off the far post to give the Flames a shortlived lead in the middle frame.
But all the Flames will be able to remember is the loss, which stung a great deal considering how much they needed a win.
On Twitter: @SUNMacfarlane