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Fitness fueling Flames in back-to-backs

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

DETROIT, MI -- Jiri Hudler kinda-sorta joked it was conditioning that was fueling the Calgary Flames.

He might be onto something, though.

From a points perspective, the back end of back-to-backs have been profitable for the Calgary Flames and it continued at the expense of the Detroit Red Wings on Friday. After netting a 4-3 shootout win courtesy David Schlemko’s trending tally Thursday, the not-so-weary Flames capped a Friday night by picking up another pair of points at the historic Joe Louis Arena in a 5-2 win.

“We’re in good shape,” Hudler said with a shrug and a pause. “It’s all the mountains in training camp. I don’t know, we’ve got a lot of young guys. To tell you…we’re in shape.

“We’re all young guys in this room. We’re in good shape. We just work hard.”

He’s not wrong, according to his boss.

“I always tell the boys, there’s only one way to work and it’s to work at full speed,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “It starts at training camp. We already complimented those guys. A few days in camp, we had the fitness results. I saw those guys most of the summer skate. I watched them work out. We developed a culture in here that you can’t hide. We’re a young team.

“We’re growing and the first criteria that’s going to make us successful is hard work.”

The work improved Calgary to 6-1-1 in the second half of back-to-back games.

Fitness aside, there’s no pinpointing the second-night success.

“I wish I knew,” said Matt Stajan, who scored in his first game back since rejoining the team after the birth of son Elliot on Monday. “I think obviously we’re just hard workers and training camp was grueling and we practiced hard. I think it takes every guy in this room. It takes responsibility of each guy individually to be in top shape and be a good pro. We have that in here. Everybody knows what their body needs and we’re able to be strong on night two of the latters.”

The victory also netted Calgary’s NHL-leading 12th win when trailing after 20 minutes, too.

“Just come to play, work hard,” Stajan said. “That’s the mindset of everybody. Everyone knows they have to be at their best for our team to win. You don’t want to let the guy beside you down in the locker room. We’re surprising you guys but that’s why we’re winning hockey games. We believe in each other and that’s what it’s going to take.”

There was plenty of power behind Calgary’s sixth win in the second of back-to-backs.

Spotting Detroit a 2-0 lead in the opening 8:12 of the game, Sean Monahan chiseled it down to one before the first period let out, faking Red Wings starter before firing a shot that got by both defencemen Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson midway through the first for his team-leading 24th of the year.

Stajan cranked a shot that beat Red Wings starter Jimmy Howard to the far side at 6:03 to tie the game.

At 13:10, Hudler added his 22nd of the year, pulling up and showing patience before firing a shot between the legs Kronwall again before beating Howard. Hudler’s goal gives him marks against 29 National Hockey League franchises. Only the New York Islanders elude him to date.

Mason Raymond upped the lead to two early in the third, taking a pass from Drew Shore and sending a shot from the slot by Howard. The helper was Shore’s first as a member of the Flames.

Hudler added his second into an empty net to cap the win.

“It’s just the way the game goes,” Monahan started, “but I think when these games come it’s pretty special for us to get those wins and I think we do it as a team.”

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