After missing the previous two games with a wrist injury, Calgary Flames forward Curtis Glencross was supposed to miss Wednesday’s night game at the Scotiabank Saddledome. As it turned out, the Detroit Red Wings were only left wishing that he did.
Even with Valtteri Filppula back in the Detroit lineup for the first time since February 24 and AHL leading scorer Gustav Nyquist on hand, it was Glencross’ return that made the difference. He set up the game-winner by Lee Stempniakand added an insurance goal to help the Flames skate away from the Red Wings 5-2.
Detroit was without the services of goaltender Jimmy Howard, relegated to backup duty with a case of the flu. That enabled Jonas Gustavsson to get his third start of the year, and the Wings staked him to an early 1-0 lead when Niklas Kronwall blasted home his fourth goal of the season just 3:20 into the game.
Yet despite out-shooting the hosts 15-6 in the opening period, the Red Wings went into the locker room trailing 2-1. Alex Tanguay took advantage of a penalty killing breakdown to skate in alone on Gustavsson for a power play tally at the 5:55 mark, and Jay Bouwmeester put his team in front four minutes later on a shot that deflected in off the skate of Detroit’s Jakub Kindl.
Filppula evened things up with a second period goal that was notable for several reasons. Not only was it his first time scoring since February 21, it also broke the Red Wings’ 0-for-everything run of power play futility away from home.
But any hopes of escaping Calgary were dashed by the combination of poor defensive play and Glencross’ apparently healed wrist. He drew everyone to him before centering for an easy tap-in by Stempniak, then took advantage of a cover-your-eyes awful defensive zone turnover by Filppula to score an unassisted goal with just over 10 minutes remaining to effectively seal up the win. Blake Comeau‘s goal 48 seconds later was merely icing on the cake for the Flames.
Miikka Kiprusoff had one of his best outings since his own month-long injury absence, stopping 36 of Detroit’s 38 shots. Gustavsson made just 17 saves on 22 shots to take the loss.
While the Flames snapped a three-game losing streak, the Red Wings saw their own run of futility extend to three games–and against two teams the standings say they should be beating in Calgary and the Columbus Blue Jackets. With six of their next seven games away from home, the Wings need to figure out what ails their offense (which has scored 13 goals in the last eight games) before this road trip buries their playoff chances.
The game was over when…
The Flames’ doctors and trainers were able to get Glencross ready to play. He was the most dangerous Calgary forward even without a point in the first period, and he absolutely killed the Red Wings in the second–with some help from the Wings themselves, of course.
The unsung Red Wings hero was…
It’s tough to give anyone the award in a loss like this, but I’ll reluctantly go with Justin Abdelkader. He still seems a bit like a square peg in a round hole as a top-six forward, but he was aggressive on the forecheck, had a couple of hits and even managed three shots on goal. A bunch of his teammates played worse.