One of the best games of the season so far for the Flames against a far superior opponent resulted in a loss last night, as the home side would fall 5-4 to the Red Wings in a shootout, closing out a winless season series against Detroit. They never trailed yet oushot the Wings 39-27, only to be done in largely due to a sub-par performance by Miikka Kiprusoff in net.
The Flames would take the lead 8:43 into the opening frame when Curtis Glencross beat Jimmy Howard for his first goal since November to put his team up 1-0. Darren Helm would reply later on in the period for the Wings to tie things up, but Jarome Iginla's goal with just ten seconds remaining in the period would put the Flames up 2-1 heading into the first intermission. Shots were 10-9 for the good guys after one while the chance count was a little more lopsided in favour of the home team at 7-3.
The second period would see the Flames and Wings exchange goals again, as defenceman Brian Rafalski tied the game for Detroit just 41 seconds into the middle frame with his first of the season. Glencross would strike again with his second of the game just 28 seconds later, however, to restore the Flames' one-goal lead. Anton Babchuk would add another on the powerplay before Patrick Eaves scored another late one on a Wings' PP with just 18 seconds remaining in the frame. The Flames would out-shoot and out-chance the Wings again in the second period, but with only a one-goal lead to show for their efforts.
Things settled down a bit in the third, with the only goal of the period coming at 8:16 of the final frame when Rafalski tied the game for Detroit with his second of the game. Nothing would come of the Flames' seven scoring chances through the final twenty minutes, as the game would head to overtime. The home side would out-shoot the Wings 6-1 in the five minute extra frame and out-chance them 4-1, but to no avail. Still locked in a 4-4 draw, the contest moved on to a shootout, where former Flame Todd Bertuzzi would score the only goal, winning the game and adding an element of poetic justice for Detroit.
Despite the loss, the Flames dominated a far superior team for good stretches of time in this game. The final chance count ended up being 26-13 in favour of the home team, but they couldn't lock it down when they had the lead, and it cost them. A second consecutive off-night by Kipper allowed Detroit to keep the score close in a game they had no business being in arguably even after the first period. He was better in the shootout, but it didn't matter at that point; this was a game that the Flames should have won in regulation.
It was a rough night for 2/3 of the Flames' top line, as both Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay finished underwater in terms of possession and the latter also finished in the red in scoring chances, with nary a shot on goal and a -2 in last night's affair, despite the fact that he played over six minutes on the powerplay. The only other player to finish without a shot on goal was Adam Pardy, and he's a third-pairing defenceman who played just under ten minutes.
The Captain, however, had a very good game, finishing +2 with a goal and an assist and in the black in both Corsi and scoring chances at +3 and +5 respectively. Iggy's performance was perhaps overshadowed by that of Curtis Glencross, however, as the forward who's picture probably could have been seen on the side of a milk carton in the Calgary area in recent weeks finally broke through last night with two goals and an assist, dragging Niklas Hagman and Matt Stajan along with him, who both finished the game with an assist.
Hagman finished a team-high +8 in scoring chance differential at EV and +10 in Corsi after sitting out as a healthy scratch in the Flames' loss to Vancouver earlier this week, and undoubtably helped Glencross drive results on that line, although the same cannot be said of Matt Stajan, who had just one shot on net in eleven minutes of ice time last night.
On the back end, Anton Babchuk had a goal and two assists in this game, finishing +2 and in the black in both Corsi and scoring chances in what was surely one of his best outings in Flames silks. The pairing of Mark Giordano and Cory Sarich bore the brunt of things last night, finishing a combined -4, although Gio collected an assist and both players still finished the game with positive underlying numbers.
Unfortunately, poor goaltending is likely to blame for Flames' failure to pick up the 'W' in last night's game, but they still earned a point against one of the best teams in the NHL and didn't look like a fourteenth-place team while doing it, so at least there's that.
The club is now off until Tuesday afternoon when they begin a four-game road trip out East against Brandon Sutter and the Carolina Hurricanes.