CALGARY -- In the heart of the Western Conference playoff chase, the Detroit Red Wings needed to take two points from the Calgary Flames on Wednesday.
Jimmy Howard gave Steve Begin a pair of gifts instead.
Begin scored twice in the third period off of puck-handling gaffes from the Detroit goaltender as the Flames edged the Red Wings 3-2 at Scotiabank Saddledome.
"You guys follow hockey and watch hockey for years and you never see two of those plays in one game – never mind one year," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. It's not like we don't work on it all the time, your goalie-D exchange, it just happens to end up in your net. You can't outscore the mistakes like that."
The loss -- coupled with an overtime victory by the Columbus Blue Jackets -- drops Detroit out of a playoff spot and into ninth in the West. The Red Wings have a game at hand over the Blue Jackets.
"You've got to win your way in," Babcock said. "You can't watch your way in. You've got to win your way in. We take a lot of pride in being a real competitive team. I think we've been competitive this year. We're not at the level we've been in the past for sure, but we've competed hard. I thought we competed hard tonight, but we didn't start on time and we made a couple mistakes."
Begin, earning his third and fourth goals of the season, wasn't complaining.
“Guys think I cut a deal with the goalie on the other side, but just lucky bounces. It's weird," Begin said.
With the puck tangled in Howard's feet behind the net after a miscommunication with defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, Begin bounced the puck off the Detroit goaltender and into the back of the net just 2:28 into the third period for a 2-1 lead.
"It's just an unfortunate break. It's no one's fault," Howard said. "[Ericsson] said it handcuffed him a little bit. The third one, it's a total mistake by me."
After Kiprusoff robbed Pavel Datsyuk on a one-timer and Henrik Zetterberg's rebound attempt at 8:16, Begin extended Calgary's lead on his second gift from Howard.
Retrieving a dump in with the Detroit on the power play, Howard went and fetched the puck behind the net. With Begin pressuring him and no defensemen to outlet a pass to, Howard fanned on his attempt to ring it around the boards. The Flames forward scooped up the puck and calmly wrapped the puck around into the net.
"I made a mistake on the third one, simple as that," Howard said. "Last time I checked I'm human. It was a tough one tonight because it was the game winner."
Howard wasn't the only victim of unfortunate bounces.
Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff gave one back to Johan Franzen at 17:18 after the Detroit forward lobbed a backhand from center that bounced in front of the net and between the legs of the Calgary keeper to cut the lead to 3-2.
“I said, 'That wasn't too nice, buddy. He was laughing," Kiprusoff said.
With a power play and Howard pulled for an extra attacker, Kiprusoff flashed his glove for the most spectacular of his 36 saves, robbing Jakub Kindl from the high slot on an uncontested slapper with 16.6 seconds remaining to preserve the win.
"Yeah, it felt good," Kiprusoff said. "Especially after I made it a little more interesting at the end there.”
It was the best of 36 saves Kiprusoff made in what could be his second-to-last start in Calgary as a member of the Flames amidst speculation about the 36-year-old's future.
“I'm aware of that, I'm not going to lie, everything that's going on," Kiprusoff said. "I haven't played in a few games and I haven't won lately, so I was motivated by that, too. It's nice to win in front of the home crowd here.”
Though desperate for two points, the Red Wings couldn't muster a shot on net until Valtteri Filppula's attempt to jam the puck by the pad of Kiprusoff 5:03 into the game.
Zetterberg fared no better on his first chance of the game. Streaking down his off wing, the Detroit captain uncorked a slap shot that Kiprusoff blockered away.
Kiprusoff also frustrated the duo of Joakim Andersson and Damien Brunner, stoning the former in tight and throwing out the left pad to rob the latter on the rebound near the midway mark of the period.
The save sparked Calgary as the Flames broke open the scoring with a dizzying goal off the stick of Lee Stempniak.
Gaining the zone, Stempniak dropped the puck for Sven Baertschi bursting into the zone. Baertschi spun around and sailed a backhand pass just behind Cory Sarich, forcing the defenseman to spin again and fired the puck on net. Howard stopped the initial shot, but put the puck right onto the stick of Stempniak, who wasted no time depositing the rebound into the yawning cage at 13:28.
Outshooting the Flames 11-2 in the second period, Detroit drew even.
Taking a centering feed in the corner from Andersson, rookie Gustav Nyquist tapped in his third of the season behind Kiprusoff at 12:31.
Nyquist had a few opportunities to add another before the period let out.
Cutting across the slot with the puck, Nyquist rolled a weak backhand just wide of the far post after being forced to avoid a diving poke check from Kiprusoff with 3:06 remaining.
On his next shift, Nyquist stripped Roman Horak of the puck at the hashmark, circled the net and fed a pass to Andersson in the slot. He fired into a scramble, but Kiprusoff's right arm kept the puck out with 15.5 seconds on the clock.