CALGARY -- The World Junior Championship picked a bad time to roll into town if you're the Calgary Flames.
By holding off a late Detroit surge for a 3-2 win against the Red Wings on Thursday night, the Flames improved to 7-0-1 in their last eight games on home ice -- but it's their last home game before giving up the Scotiabank Saddledome to the World Juniors, which run from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5. Calgary begins a seven game, 12,000-mile road trip interrupted by a brief Christmas break Thursday night against the Vancouver Canucks.
"It's huge," said Flames forward Tim Jackman, who made the play that led to the Flames' second goal "It's nice to start playing well at home. The last few games we've played well at home. Those are big points, we need to take advantage especially because we're going on that 11 day road trip."
Powered by goals 4:17 apart early in the second period, the Flames -- playing in front of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- survived a furious Detroit push to beat the Red Wings in Calgary for the first time since March 23, 2009.
"I thought even at the end we had lots of opportunities, but the hockey gods look after the team that plays the longest and they deserved to win not us," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "The decision to play didn't happen until the third period, and we have to be disappointed with our effort, for sure."
The Flames turned a 1-0 lead into a three-goal advantage by coming out fast in the middle period.
Jackman took a hit from Niklas Kronwall at his own blue line to get the puck to a streaking Brendan Morrison, who came in 2-on-1 with Blake Comeau. Morrison fired a pass over the stick of Brad Stuart to Comeau, who buried it past Red Wings goaltender Ty Conklin at 1:30 to give Calgary a 2-0 lead. The assist was the 400th of Morrison's career.
"I was pretty happy to see Blake finish that and Morrison make that pass there after I got rocked pretty good there by Kronwall," Jackman said.
By taking the hit from Kronwall, Jackman opened up the odd-man opportunity for Morrison and Comeau. It might have been the wrong move to make from Babcock's vantage point.
"(Kronwall) obviously thought he had enough people in front of him," Babcock said. "He's usually real good with those things. It ended up in our net, so it's obviously not the right decision."
Curtis Glencross made it 3-0 at 5:47, beating Conklin to the far side from near the right faceoff dot on another 2-on-1, this one with each team down a man.
"It's one of those shots, you can ask any goalie, if you put it low blocker just over the pad from most angles it was a tough one," Glencross said. "There was lots of traffic too so I didn't want to come short side and have it go the other way. I was lucky enough to go in."
Babcock wasn't happy with the spate of odd-man rushes his team surrendered.
"I think we gave up more odd-man rushes in the first two periods than we have in a month," he said.
Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff kept Detroit off the board in the opening 40 minutes, flashing his right pad on a Todd Bertuzzi shot redirected just 10 feet in front of him by Darren Helm with just under three minutes remaining in the second period.
Jiri Hudler solved the Kiprusoff 4:55 into the third. Weaving through the slot, Hudler released a backhander through traffic to make it 3-1. Ian White got Detroit to within one with 4:12 remaining when his point shot off a faceoff hit a stick and deflected over Kiprusoff's shoulder.
The Wings poured it on looking for the tying goal, but Henrik Zetterberg hit the post with two minutes remaining and Johan Franzen's empty net attempt was deflected out of play by Olli Jokinen with 34 seconds left. Detroit, which lost 4-2 at Vancouver on Wednesday, outshot Calgary 15-5 in the third period.
Calgary struck first at 16:10 of the first period while on the power play. With Bertuzzi, a former Flame, in the penalty box for hooking, Glencross lifted Jokinen's rebound over Conklin for a 1-0 lead.
Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom said his team's effort in the opening two periods wasn't good enough.
"We put ourselves behind in the game in the first two [periods]," Lidstrom said. "We didn't skate as well. I thought they outworked us in the first two periods. They were quicker on pucks. They had a lot of speed through the neutral zone and we couldn't really defend against it. In the third we did battle back and we were only a crossbar or a post away from tying the game up late."
Glencross admitted the Flames were gripping their sticks a little tighter with the game on the line in the dying seconds.
"Everything gets a little more intense," he said. "At the same time it's where you have to sit back and go with what's been working the whole game and stick to the basics and shut down the house in front of the net. If you take care of the house out front and clog up the middle of the ice it's a little tougher to score."
Flames captain Jarome Iginla was held off the scoresheet and currently sits at 497 career goals. While getting to 500 on home ice wasn't a prerogative, Glencross admitted it would have been nice to see his linemate reach the milestone in Calgary.
"I don't think that's a real big deal to Jarome," Glencross said. "His 500th is going to come no matter what sometime, right. It would've been nice to get it at home but at the same time he's not real worried where he's going to get it. He's going to get that 500 eventually."