CALGARY – The Calgary Flames kept Detroit’s big guns off the scoresheet, but they had no answer for the Red Wings’ third line.
Mike Modano and Justin Abdelkader scored second-period goals to propel the Red Wings to a 2-1 win over the Flames on Wednesday.
Detroit (7-2-1) earned its second straight win, and fifth in its past six games.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock liked the effort he received from his third line of Modano, Abdelkader and Dan Cleary.
“I thought Cleary was fantastic in the first, I thought Modano was good and then obviously Abby scoring the goal by just being big and physical down low,” Babcock said. “It gave us four solid lines here tonight.”
Playing in just his second game of the season, Abdelkader’s first goal of the season stood up as the game-winner.
“It feels great,” said Abdelkader, who missed the first eight games of the season nursing a rib injury. :I think our line can be successful when we can hang onto pucks, cycle down low (and) bring it to the net. It’s going to open up a lot of things.”
Mark Giordano scored the lone goal of the game for the Flames (6-6-0) on a first-period power play. The Flames have now lost three straight and finished their five-game homestand—their longest of the season—with a 2-3 record.
“We were in a good spot after the first with the lead,” Giordano said. “They found ways to get ahead.”
After missing the past two games with back spasms, Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard returned to the lineup and stopped 16 of 17 shots he faced to improve his record to 5-0-1.
“Being off for a week and a half, I felt a little bit off, but for the most part I had a couple of good practices and I felt okay,” Howard said.
Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff made 31 saves in a losing cause.
The teams traded chances in the first period. With the Flames on a power play early in the game, Cleary stole the puck from Brendan Morrison, who was playing the point. Cleary sped ahead for a breakaway and fired a shot that Kiprusoff turned aside with his blocker.
On another first-period power play for the Flames, Jarome Iginla sent a cross-crease pass to Niklas Hagman, who fired a pair of shots that were turned aside by Howard.
On Calgary’s third power play of the game, Giordano one-timed a pass from Iginla into the top corner over Howard’s glove hand to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.
Late in the first period, Detroit almost tied the game when Henrik Zetterberg dumped a bouncing puck into the Calgary zone that jumped past Kiprusoff and off the post before trickling wide.
Early in the second, Modano broke into the Calgary zone and wired a shot into the top corner over Kiprusoff’s outstretched glove hand to tie the game.
Later in the second period, Abdelkader took a pass from Pavel Datsyuk and fired a shot over Kiprusoff’s left pad to give the Red Wings a 2-1 lead.
“The second goal is a bad line change and we allow a three-on-two to happen that turns into a two-on-one and that’s another goal,” said Calgary coach Brent Sutter. “You have a 1-0 hockey game, you’ve just got to stay with your game, yet we give two odd-man rushes up that cost us goals.
“You can’t do that against most teams in the National Hockey League. You’re going to get burnt on it and we did tonight.”
Calgary had a great chance to tie the game in the third period when Detroit defenceman Ruslan Salei took a double minor for high-sticking Hagman in the face, but the Flames couldn’t get anything going on the extended power play and only managed two shots on goal.
“We’ve got to make plays and that’s the bottom line,” said Calgary forward Rene Bourque, who has been held to just two assists in his past four games. “We had a lot of passes that got intercepted. I threw away pucks a few times myself and that eats up a lot of time. We had four minutes and we had really only one good chance and that’s not good enough.”
Notes: The Flames held the lead after the first period for the seventh straight game and their record in those games fell to 3-4.…The Flames also scored the first goal of the game for the eighth straight occasion. They have a 4-4 record in those games.…Heading into the contest, the Red Wings had scored at least one power-play goal in every game except their first of the season. They went 0-for-6 with the man advantage against the Flames.…Forward David Moss returned to the Calgary lineup after missing the first 11 games of the season with a shoulder injury.