CALGARY (CP) - The Detroit Red Wings return home looking for answers.
After two dominant wins at home in Game 1 and 2, in which they outshot the Calgary Flames 97-35 in winning 4-1 and 3-1 respectively, the Western Conference series is back to even after Calgary made it two straight home wins Thursday night with a 3-2 victory. Detroit's biggest concern is its listless power play, which went 0-for-10 in Calgary to fall 2-for-29 for the series. Not only is it failing to score at key moments in the game, it's failing to generate any momentum.
"We pressed tonight," said Mike Babcock. "We shot the puck when we should be passing it, and passing it when we should be shooting it.
"Instead of it building momentum for you, it's building momentum for them because you're doing things you shouldn't be doing on it, so they end up with energy from their kill."
Detroit's penalty killing also gave up two goals, but both came essentially on two-man advantages - Langkow's first technically coming one second after Mathieu Schneider had exited the penalty box.
Of bigger concern was not that the Red Wings gave up the two power-play goals, it would be the penalties they took to put themselves two men short.
On the first one, Hasek got bumped at the top of the crease by Jarome Iginla and after there was no call, he responded by pretending to take a swing at the Flames captain with his stick drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and giving the Flames a 1:12 two-man advantage in the first period.
In the second period, Lidstrom got his stuck up into Iginla's midsection causing another two man short for the Wings, this time for 1:36.
With the Wings captain in the penalty box, the defence pairing of Andreas Lilja and 44-year-old Chris Chelios eventually left Langkow uncovered who then snapped an Alex Tanguay pass behind Hasek at 8:19 for what stood up as the game-winning goal.
"We started off playing really smart, really disciplined. The last couple games, we've been just playing the opposite," said Lidstrom. "We're caught in the wrong spots sometimes you have to take a penalty and other times you're taking a penalty where it's not really needed."
Also a concern was the ineffectiveness of the Red Wings top line of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Tomas Holmstrom in the past two games after excellent performances in Detroit.
"We didn't think they were in synch at all tonight," Babcock said. "We actually played them with different people and moved people around to try and make something happen."
On the bright side for Detroit, Todd Bertuzzi found the scoresheet twice with a goal and an assist as coach Babcock's line shuffle of moving Bertuzzi and Johan Franzen to flank centre Robert Lang paid off - that line being Detroit's best trio all evening.
"That line got us going. They got us in the game and kept us in the game," Babcock said. "It was great to see Bert get his goal and Langer did a good job setting both the goals up."
Hasek says the difference this weekend, as the teams get ready to square off on consecutive days beginning Saturday in Detroit, will be whether the Red Wings get their special teams turned around.
"Their special teams have been better and not a just little bit better, but much better and it's a big difference," said Hasek. "We have to do small things better on both the power play and the penalty killing. And that can be a difference in the next two or three games, but if we don't change it, we could be in trouble."