CALGARY – Flames coach Brent Sutter is hoping to get Calgary back on track Saturday against Detroit.
After squandering an early two-goal lead in a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at home on Wednesday, the Flames (7-3-2) will be looking to finish their five-game homestand with a solid effort against the Wings (8 p.m. MT, CBC).
“This is the end of a good home stretch for us that we’ve been able to work on a lot of things,” said Sutter, referring to the fact that the Flames haven’t played a road game since a 2-1 loss in Columbus to the Blue Jackets on Oct. 13. “We want to make sure we finish strong.”
Following the loss to Columbus, the Flames won all three home games they played over a 14-day stretch before being edged by the Northwest Division-leading Avalanche.
“We had a great start last game, but we didn’t keep it going,” said Flames forward Fredrik Sjostrom. “Teams in the NHL are too good. They take advantage of it. You’ve got to make sure you keep the same momentum going all the time.”
After ending a three-game losing streak with a 5-4 win in Vancouver on Tuesday night, the Red Wings (4-4-3) rallied to score four straight goals against the Oilers in Edmonton two nights later only to lose 6-5 in a shootout.
“They’re a team that went into Vancouver and won a big game there,” said Sutter. “Last night, they battled hard to come back to get a point. They’re going to be a very highly competitive team.”
While the Red Wings haven’t gotten out to a strong start, Sutter warned that his players will have to be prepared to face a team eager to move up in the standings.
“More importantly for ourselves, it’s making sure we’re ready to play up to our standards and get that consistency that we want from every individual,” he said.
Sjostrom warned that the Flames will have to avoid making mistakes against the Red Wings, who are consistently one of the best puck-possession teams in the NHL.
“They just seem to have it all the time,” said Sjostrom. “It’s hard to get on the forecheck. You’ve got to make sure you get a lick on guys like (Niklas) Lidstrom and (Niklas) Kronwall, because if you let them handle the puck and make nice crisp passes, you’re going to be chasing all night long.”
Calgary defenceman Cory Sarich agreed with Sjostrom that the Flames will have to do a good job of limiting turnovers against the Wings.
“You just cannot have turnovers against them,” Sarich said. “They’re a great transition team. They cue on all your mistakes. You tend to make a mistake against them and they put the puck in the net. You just have to limit those, make sure there’s hardly any of them.”
After Detroit’s comeback effort against the Oilers fell a bit short, Sarich is hoping the Flames can take advantage of a road-weary group of Red Wings.
“Maybe they used up all their jam,” Sarich said. “Let’s hope it’s that way. We’ve had a couple days rest, so we’re ready and raring to go here.”
Forward David Moss, who returned to Calgary’s lineup two games ago after missing five contests with a shoulder injury, said the Flames will have to be wary Detroit’s skilled group of forwards, which include top scorers Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom.
“You’ve got to limit their chances and obviously stay out of the penalty box and be hard defensively to try and discourage their skilled guys,” said Moss, who grew up as a Detroit fan in nearby Livonia, Mich. “We’re certainly not taking them lightly. We’ll have our work cut out for us.”