CALGARY – The Calgary Flames nearly let a strong performance by Curtis Glencross go to waste.
Glencross scored twice, including the game-winning goal, but the Flames had to hold off a third-period Detroit rally in a narrow 3-2 win over the Red Wings on Thursday.
The Flames (16-15-4) earned their fifth win in a row at home in front of a crowd that included Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“We got away from a few things we had in the first two periods in the third period, Glencross said. “Detroit’s a team with that skill. They can always come back. Three goals for them isn’t much.”
After a pair of lacklustre periods, the Red Wings (21-12-1) woke up in the third and pulled to within one on goals by Jiri Hudler and Ian White.
“I thought (the Flames) looked great coming out of their zone until the third period, and obviously then we dug in and made the game close,” said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. “I thought even at the end we had lots of opportunities, but the hockey gods look after the team that plays the longest and they deserved to win, not us.”
Glencross admitted that the Flames were gripping their sticks a little bit tighter in the third period when they were outshot 15-5 by the Red Wings.
“We got off our guard a little bit,” said Glencross, who ran his goal-scoring streak to three games. “We just had to keep going and play the way we did the first two periods (and) we would’ve been better off. We got through it and got the two points.”
Glencross scored the winner at 5:47 of the second period when he broke into the Detroit zone on a two-on-one with Roman Horak. Instead of passing, Glencross fired a low shot that bounced off the post and in behind Detroit goalie Ty Conklin.
Blake Comeau also scored, while Miikka Kiprusoff made 29 saves for Calgary.
Conklin stopped 24 shots for Detroit, which suffered its second straight setback. Detroit also lost 4-2 in Vancouver on Wednesday.
“You play back-to-back on the road in the NHL all the time,” Babcock said. “You’ve got to dig in and find a way to win. We didn’t make the hard decision to do that.”
Hudler started the Red Wings’ third-period comeback, breaking Kiprusoff’s shut-out bid at 4:55 when he cut to the slot through traffic and backhanded a shot past the Calgary netminder.
The Red Wings continued to pour on the pressure and were rewarded when White’s point shot deflected off the stick of Calgary forward Tom Kostopoulos and past Kiprusoff.
With less than two minutes left in the game, Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg rang a shot off the post. Babcock pulled Conklin from the net in favour of an extra attacker in the final minute, but the Flames managed to hang on for the narrow victory.
“In the third we did battle back and we were only a crossbar or a post away from tying the game up late,”said Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom.
Tim Jackman had a great chance to open the scoring midway through the opening period when he drove hard down the right wing before shovelling a shot on net that Conklin turned aside with his right pad.
With former Flame Todd Bertuzzi in the penalty box for hooking, Glencross opened the scoring at 16:10 of the first.
Olli Jokinen took the initial shot that deflected off of Detroit defenceman Niklas Kronwall’s stick. Conklin managed to stop the fluttering puck, but Glencross was in the right spot at the side of the net to swat in the rebound to put the Flames up 1-0.
The Flames went up 2-0 early in the second period. Kronwall knocked Jackman to the ice with a heavy hit at the Calgary blue-line, but Jackman got the puck to Brendan Morrison before going down. Morrison set up Comeau and earned his 400th career assist.
“I was pretty happy to see Blake finish that and Morrison make that pass…after I got rocked pretty good there by Kronwall,” Jackman said.
Late in the second period, Kiprusoff made a nice save with his right pad to stop a shot that was deflected on net by Detroit forward Darren Helm.
Notes: Rene Bourque served the second of his two-game suspension for his hit last Sunday on Chicago defenceman Brent Seabrook, while fellow Flames forward Alex Tangauy missed the game with an undisclosed injury.…With his assist, Jokinen extended his point-scoring streak to five games (three goals, five assists).…Detroit starting goalie Jimmy Howard, who has compiled a 20-8-1 record so far this season, got the net off after playing the previous evening in Vancouver. Howard had started the previous eight games for Detroit.