Detroit Red Wings have been mindful of their mediocre road record, citing their poor performance away from Joe Louis Arena as the area most need of improvement coming out of the All-Star weekend.
A trip to Calgary put the Red Wings on the right track to accomplishing that goal in their first game back of break, as they scored two goals late in the third period for a 3-1 victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday night.
The Red Wings have been trying to replicate their play on home ice -- they are 20-2-1 at Joe Louis Arena and have gone nearly three months without a regulation loss. The win over the Flames brings Detroit's road record to 14-14-0 and handed the Flames their third consecutive loss in Calgary.
"It's not really acceptable for us," Red Wings forward Cory Emmerton said, who had a goal in the contest. "We need to improve on that, especially showing going into the playoffs we can win on the road and not just at home. It's going to be important. This road trip is going to be a big step."
Leaving points on the table at this stage of the game hurting Calgary's playoff chances, currently sit in a three-way tie for 10th place in the Western Conference with the Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes.
"I guess it's been a little bit of the same for us as of late," said Michael Cammalleri, the lone scorer in the game for Calgary. "(It's) a habit we're going to have to break, playing a solid game for the most part and not being able to finish the deal. A couple breakdowns late are really costing us."
The bounces aren't exactly going the Flames' way, either.
Valtteri Filppula broke down his off wing with the puck and banked a pass off the outside of the net and onto the stick of Jiri Hudler. The pass turned around Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, allowing Hudler to poke it into the net with 8:31 remaining in the game.
"The puck just ended up on my stick, I got lucky again," Hudler said. "I wasn't sure at first when I got it in the net. I wasn't sure if he got it, but then I saw it and I was happy."
It's the bounce that broke the game open for the Red Wings, who followed up the goal with a Drew Miller marker at 15:58.
"The first goal in the third period, I think was 1-on-3, 1-on-4, and the guy goes to make a pass in front of the net and we're all right there in position. It hits the side of the post and goes in. It's frustrating," Flames forward Alex Tanguay said. "Sometimes you have breakdowns; sometimes you make mental mistakes. We were right there in position and it bounced right to the guy in front. It's certainly frustrating."
Jimmy Howard slammed the door shut after the two goals, making nine of his 29 saves in the third period.
Detroit opened the scoring in the first period on just their second shot of the game. Kiprusoff kicked out Justin Abdelkader's initial drive off the wing right onto the stick of Emmerton, who buried it into the net 5:57 into the first period.
"Abby shot it and it just happened to land on my stick so it was a nice little gift coming off the All-Star break," Emmerton said.
Kiprusoff made sure the Red Wings didn't do the same to close out the period.
Cleary tried to put Detroit up 2-0 on their last shot of the first. He picked up a rebound near the crease but couldn't beat a seemingly down-and-out Kiprusoff with 51.1 seconds remaining. The puck hit the outstretched glove of the Flames goaltender and slid across the goal line, eventually trapped underneath the combination of Kiprusoff and the stick of backchecking forward Mikael Backlund.
Calgary answered back early in the second.
With former Flames forward Todd Bertuzzi in the box for interference, Cammalleri struck. After Tanguay's initial shot was blocked in front of Howard by Brad Stuart – another former Flame – Cammalleri zipped through the slot, picked up the puck and batted it into the Detroit net 1:59 into the middle period.
Bertuzzi tried to make amends with a power play opportunity of his own at 5:40. Though Kiprusoff stopped the initial point shot, Bertuzzi tried to wrap the puck around the Flames' goaltender, but was unable to tuck it into the net.
Kiprusoff was equally as sharp on Henrik Zetterberg. After the puck bounced onto the stick of Zetterberg in the slot, he fired a shot destined for the low corner that was met by Kiprusoff's right pad eight minutes in.