Detroit still leads the best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final series 2-1 heading into Thursday’s Game 4 at the Pengrowth Saddledome. But after getting badly outplayed in the opening two games of the series in Detroit, the Flames regained some confidence with the victory and maintained their reputation of being tough to beat in their own arena.
Calgary had a league-leading 30 wins at home during the regular season.
“Part of it is confidence,” Iginla said. “We’re at home and we believe when we play our game we can beat people.”
He was criticized in Calgary for getting only two shots on goal in the first two games of the series.
After hitting the post late in the first period Tuesday, Iginla scored his first of the series and the game-winner at 9:21 of the third period.
“I was due wasn’t I?” Iginla asked. “I definitely felt I was due.”
Giordano was inserted into the lineup in place of the injured Robyn Regehr. He tied the game 2-2 with a power-play goal at 4:32 of the third for his first goal in his first NHL game.
“It was exciting and it gave us some momentum,” Giordano said. “It’s a pretty big game and it was a pretty big goal, so it’s probably up there at the top of my career so far.”
Matthew Lombardi also scored a power-play goal for Calgary. Kris Draper scored twice for Detroit and Daniel Cleary had two assists.
The fire alarm at the Saddledome went off five minutes into the third period, but no one in the sold-out building was about to leave with the score 2-2.
Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff got far better support from his defence than he did in the first two games at the Joe Louis Arena, where he faced 97 shots.
He stopped 28 shots for the win while Detroit counterpart Dominik Hasek made 25 saves.
Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi appeared in first playoff game since May 8, 2003, with the Vancouver Canucks. He was suspended prior to the 2004 post-season after his hit on Colorado’s Steve Moore.
The big forward, who had sat out the three previous games with a concussion, had regular work on Detroit’s power play and fourth line. He was booed when he touched the puck.
Calgary’s defence was better Tuesday, limiting shots on their goalie to 30 and not allowing the Wings to slip behind them as easily as they had in Detroit.
“We didn’t want to shoot the puck tonight, we wanted to overpass and when you do that against a team that’s working hard defensively, they end up coming back the other way a lot,” Detroit head coach Mike Babcock said.
The Flames also weren’t in the penalty box early as much as they were in Detroit, although they did have to kill off a four-minute high-sticking penalty to Wayne Primeau early in the first period.
“I thought we were a lot more resilient all the way around,” said Iginla. “This was by far our biggest game of the year.”
Detroit defenceman and captain Nik Lidstrom was assigned to bottle up Iginla and he’d been effective until the third period, when Iginla streaked down the wing, got a step on Lidstrom and wired a shot over Hasek’s shoulder.
Calgary had superior special teams, going 2-for-6 with a man advantage while holding Detroit scoreless on four chances a man up.
Cleary was a standout for Detroit. On the Wings’ second goal to go up 2-1 at the start of the third period, he knocked Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf into the corner and lost his helmet in the process. But Cleary recovered the puck behind the goal-line and sent it out front to Draper.
“Cleary has been maybe our best player so far this series,” Babcock said. “That line was really hard to play against, they were physical, and they got the puck to the net.”
Notes – Playfair said before Tuesday’s game that he hoped to have Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr (knee) back in the lineup Thursday . . . Flames defenceman Rhett Warrener gushed blood from his mouth at the end of the first period when he was struck in the face by the puck on a Henrik Zetterberg shot. Warrener returned to the ice midway through the second period . . . A pane of glass behind Kiprusoff was dislodged with 10 seconds left in the second period, so the 10 was added to the third.