Wings better Flames at Dome
IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency
CALGARY - Through nearly 50 minutes, it was tough to tell which was the NHL’s top team.
Then a stumble and fall, following by a beautiful passing play by guys designated as secondary scorers, and it becomes quite obvious which is the better club.
The Calgary Flames played the Detroit Red Wings tight for two-plus periods Tuesday night but still come away disappointed after a 3-1 loss at the Saddledome.
With neither team giving up opportunities, the Wings took the lead midway through the third on one of those unfortunate blunders and a lucky bounce.
Valtteri Filppula was speeding through the neutral zone when Flames defenceman Chris Butler stumbled and fell at the blueline. Filppula went wide and backhanded a shot that hit the side of the net and bounced out to the slot, where Jiri Hudler roofed it for a 2-1 Wings lead.
“It’s frustrating,” Flames forward Alex Tanguay said. “Sometimes, there are breakdowns and sometimes there are mental mistakes.
“We were all in position and it bounced to him in front. We played a really solid game and we had some chances. We felt we should have been able to get a couple more powerplays. There were some interference calls there to be made.”
The visitors put the Flames away with a pretty passing play with 4:02 left. From the sideboards, Darren Helm chipped the puck to Dan Cleary, who made a pretty pass over to Drew Miller for the quick redirection from the side of the crease.
The Wings (34-16-1) quickly erased memories of their last outing before the all-star break. This certainly didn’t look anything like the team that was humiliated 7-2 by the Montreal Canadiens last Wednesday.
Despite the score, the Flames (23-22-6) put in a solid effort against the league’s best team but don’t secure any points to their lacklustre offence.
“A habit we’re going to have to break, playing a pretty solid game for the most part and not being able to finish the deal,” winger Michael Cammalleri said. “A couple of breakdowns late are really costing us.”
The Flames were looking for more scoring from their latest big-name acquisition and Cammalleri delivered in the second period.
After a Tanguay point shot was knocked down by a blueliner at the top of the crease, Cammalleri pulled the puck down and managed to get a shot off that Jimmy Howard saved.
However, Howard couldn’t get the trapper on the puck quick enough as Cammalleri batted home the rebound. The powerplay goal, which tied it 1-1, was Cammalleri’s second tally since coming back to the team Jan. 12 from the Canadiens.
But one goal doesn’t cut it and the home team didn’t have many quality scoring chances, at least not enough to contend with a team that plays keep-away as well as the Wings.
“If you look at the game, when it’s 1-1 in the third period, I know we were outshooting them, I don’t know if we were out-chancing them,” Cammalleri said. “If you’re still outshooting and out-chancing your opponent, you still like your chances to win.
“I don’t care if we score half a goal to win, as long as we win the game.”
The Wings took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period thanks to a bad rebound from Miikka Kiprusoff.
Justin Abdelkader broke in on the right wing and fired a low shot that Kiprusoff kicked aside but the puck bounced right to Cory Emmerton, who fired it home for his fifth of the season.
The Flames were still in position to grind out a victory against a formidable opponent, but they made errors in crunch time.
“They had two chances and scored,” blueliner Jay Bouwmeester said. “You just can’t have those breakdowns at that time of the game, especially against a team like that. They’re going to capitalize.”
The news on the injury front doesn’t get any better. Winger Lee Stempniak left the game early with a lower-body injury and didn’t return.
The Flames have one game left in the homestand as they face the Chicago Blackhawks Friday night at the Saddledome (7 p.m.).
On Twitter @SUNIanBusby