The Flames are coming off their most complete effort of the season, a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers to open this mini-homestand on Tuesday. Michael Frolik (who was playing in his 800th career game) and Andrew Mangiapane stepped up and answered the call for secondary scoring, helping the Flames open up a two-goal cushion with their first tallies of the season. Then, following a late push by the Flyers, the Flames' leading goal-getter - Elias Lindholm - capped off an impressive individual effort with the insurance marker into the empty net, 11 seconds from the finish.
David Rittich made 21 saves and was part of a splendid show of team defence. The Flames allowed a season-low 22 shots and only a pair of high-danger scoring chances - a display head coach Bill Peters deemed a "step in the right direction."
"We're starting to play the right way," he said. "You saw it in San Jose. I thought we were good in San Jose, in stretches. I thought we were good in stretches last night.
"We've got to continue to build."
The Flames got back to work with an hour-long practice on Wednesday, but one player was missing in action.
Mikael Backlund - who left Tuesday's game (and later returned) after a blocking an Ivan Provorov point blast - took a "maintenance day" after post-game x-rays came back negative on his battered left boot.
Despite missing practice, the coach remains confident that Backlund will be available to play.
"I know he's going to work on getting treatment the rest of the day (Wednesday), get treatment in the morning, probably try it in the pre-game skate and if he's good to go, he'll be in," said Peters.
The Red Wings are in the midst of a three-game, western-Canadian road swing that began with a 5-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.
Dylan Larkin had his team's lone tally, while Jonathan Bernier made 27 stops in a losing effort.
Special teams were the story of the night, with the Wings going 0-for-3 on the powerplay, which included 97 seconds of 5-on-3 time. The Canucks, meanwhile, struck thrice on five opportunities with the man-advantage.
The Red Wings enter the night with the league's 26th-ranked powerplay, operating at an 11.1% efficiency rate so far.
"You won't necessarily score on the first chance, it's going to be the second or third rebound that's going to go in and I think that's what we need to focus on," leading scorer Anthony Mantha told Dana Wakiji of DetroitRedWings.com
Danny DeKeyser, who was a late scratch in Vancouver with what head coach Jeff Blashill called a "mid-body" injury, did not participate in Wednesday's practice.
The stay-at-home blueliner is currently fourth on the team in points with four assists.
Fellow defenceman Patrik Nemeth (illness) and forward Adam Erne (upper body) were absent as well. It's unclear if any or all three will be available for tonight's game.
However, with veterans Frans Nielsen and Trevor Daley activated from injured reserve prior to Tuesday's game, there are currently no plans to recall another player from AHL Grand Rapids.
"If something happens where one of those other guys couldn't play, we'd probably go 11 (forwards) and seven (defencemen)," Blashill said.
This is the first of two meetings between these two teams, and the only head-to-head contest to be held at the Scotiabank Saddledome this year.
Last year, the Flames took both encounters with their Eastern counterparts, outscoring the Wings 11-7 in the process. Johnny Gaudreau led the Flames in head-to-head scoring, notching five points (1G, 4A) in two games, while TJ Brodie and Elias Lindholm were not far behind with four points each.
Following tonight's matchup, the teams won't hook up again until the new year when they close out their home-and-home series with a Feb. 23 contest at Little Caesars Arena.
THIS: With an assist on Tuesday, Mark Giordano moved past Gary Suter for the second most assists by a defenceman - at home - in Flames franchise history (145). Giordano trails Al MacInnis (179) for the most home helpers. … THAT:Andrew Mangiapane scored his first goal of the season on Tuesday. The Flames are now 8-0-1 when he scores, dating back to last year. … THE OTHER: In 2018-19, Mangiapane scored eight even-strength markers, post-All-Star break. Only Connor McDavid and Nathan MacKinnon had more.
5. PLAYERS TO WATCH
Flames - Elias Lindholm
Lindholm is off to another strong start after graphing new career highs across the board last year. He logged a game-high seven shots on Tuesday against the Flyers, and was finally rewarded with an empty-net goal late in the contest to give him a team-leading four goals on the year.
Red Wings - Taro Hirose
With 16 career games under his belt, the Calgary native will now get to make his hometown debut with his parents, Susan and Chris, on hand to take in the moment. The undrafted forward out of Michigan State, who signed a free-agent contract with the Red Wings last March, played at the Edge School from 2011 to 2014, recorded 31 goals and 70 points in 48 career Midget Prep Division games, and 24 goals and 39 points in 25 career Midget Varsity Division games.
"You never really know what your path is going to be." Hirose told Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News last week. "It'll be pretty cool playing there, in front of the C of Red.
"I'm really looking forward to it, and a real cool experience for me and my family."