If the Detroit Red Wings fail to make the playoffs this season, they’re likely to look back on Wednesday night’s game against the Calgary Flames and see it as the place where their 21-season postseason streak disappeared with a couple of bad bounces.
Tied 1-1 at the Scotiabank Saddledome after two periods, the Red Wings saw Steve Begin score two of the easiest goals he’ll ever net. Calgary goalie Mikka Kiprusoff did the rest, torturing Detroit again to help his team drop the Red Wings 3-2. The Flames finished off a season sweep of the Red Wings in the process, winning all three meetings between the two teams in 2013.
The 34-year old Begin was the beneficiary of two fluky plays that may be proof that this just isn’t Detroit’s year. The first came at the 2:28 mark of the third, when Jonathan Ericssson fumbled he puck trying to bring it out from behind the Red Wings net. Begin poked his sick in, knocking it off the back of Jimmy Howard‘s skate and across the line for an unassisted goal.
Begin’s second goal may have been even easier despite coming shorthanded. With Dennis Wideman off for cross checking, Howard was behind his own net trying to start the play up ice. His mishandle ended up right on the stick of Begin as he cruised by, allowing him to tuck the puck into an empty net for his fourth goal of the campaign.
Johan Franzen answered in equally bizarre fashion with just under three minutes to play. The Mule made a routine backhand lob into the Calgary zone and watched it take one big hop by a surprised Kiprusoff. The goal was Franzen’s tenth of the season and third in as many games.
Mike Babcock called his timeout with 1:26 left, and Howard headed for the bench 20 seconds later. Curtis Glencross made the finish extra interesting by hooking Pavel Datsyuk with 30 seconds remaining, but Kiprusoff finished off his 29-save night by making one final glove stop on Jakub Kindl.
The Red Wings outshot the Flames by wide margins in both the second and third periods, but they trailed after 20 minutes thanks to Lee Stempniak‘s even strength goal. Gustav Nyquist netted Detroit’s other goal on an excellent feed from Joakim Andersson at 12:31 of the second. Henrik Zetterberg and Damien Brunner combined for 15 shots on goal, but neither figured in the scoring.
Thanks to the Anaheim Ducks’ loss to the surging Columbus Blue Jackets, the Red Wings will wake up on Thursday morning looking in from the outside of the Western Conference playoff race. With just five games left to try to avoid staying home in May, every game is a must-win for Detroit, beginning with Saturday’s visit to the Vancouver Canucks.
The game was over when…
The Red Wings couldn’t score more than one goal in the second period. They dominated play for most of the frame but only managed to get one puck past Kiprusoff, That turned out to be fatal since they couldn’t absorb two bad bounces in the third.
The unsung Red Wings hero was…