DETROIT -- Mikael Backlund broke a tie with 7:46 remaining and Dougie Hamilton had three assists to help the Calgary Flames to a 3-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday.
Chad Johnson made 21 saves for Calgary (8-11-1), which opened a season-long six-game road trip.
"It's huge to get the first game of this trip," Hamilton said. "We're looking at this almost like a playoff series, because we know we have to get some wins, and it was great to get this kind of start."
Jimmy Howard made 23 saves for the Red Wings (8-10-1), who have lost four straight.
"Obviously when we aren't scoring goals in bunches, I can't give up three," Howard said. "I've got to go out there and make saves for the guys, and they got three past me tonight. That's tough."
WATCH: All Flames vs. Red Wings highlights
Detroit's problem, though, is on the other end of the ice; the Red Wings have scored 19 goals in the past 11 games, going 2-8-1 over that stretch.
"We better pick ourselves up and come to work on Monday to get better," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "We have to pick ourselves up in a hurry and focus on winning a hockey game on Wednesday."
Detroit took a 1-0 lead 8:06 into the game on Tomas Tatar's third goal of the season. Tatar was hit by Justin Abdelkader's shot between the faceoff circles, but he gathered the loose puck and slid a shot past Johnson.
But Hamilton set up the next two goals with slap shots from the point.
Calgary tied it at 3:40 of the second on Garnet Hathaway's first NHL goal when he deflected Hamilton's shot past Howard.
"I saw the puck going back to Dougie, so I just headed to the net," Hathaway said. "It was an amazing feeling to score my first goal, but I'll probably tell people that I sniped it instead of a tip from a couple feet."
Video: CGY@DET: Hathaway deflects home his first career goal
The Flames took a 2-1 lead at 2:31 of the third when Matt Stajan redirected Hamilton's shot past Howard for his first goal of the season.
"I was trying all night to get pucks on net," Hamilton said. "You'll have a lot of nights where you never get those tipped in, and then you get two in a row. It's mostly just luck, but we'll take it."
Anthony Mantha tied the game at 7:59 with a wrist shot, but Backlund scored what proved to be the game-winner at 12:14. He passed the puck to Michael Frolik and drove to the net, tapping Frolik's return feed past Howard.
"I thought that was a very even game, but we took advantage of the chances we created," Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said.
Red Wings defenseman Alexey Marchenko sustained an upper-body injury in the second period and did not return.
"It looks like he will be out for a while, but we'll know more on Monday," Blashill said.
Goal of the game
Mantha missed the net on a 2-on-1 break with Gustav Nyquist, but he regained the puck behind the net, came out to the left side and put a wrist shot over Johnson's shoulder. "That's a big-time goal scorer's goal," Blashill said. "We need more guys playing at that level."
Video: CGY@DET: Mantha rips a goal into the top shelf
Save of the game
The Red Wings almost took a 2-0 lead in the final seconds of the first period when Dylan Larkin's pass found Thomas Vanek cutting to the net, but Johnson got his blocker on the point-blank shot.
Highlight of the game
Backlund and Frolik performed a textbook give-and-go play to set up the winning goal. Backlund's initial pass drew the defense toward Frolik, so there wasn't a Red Wing defender near Backlund when he got the puck back.
Video: CGY@DET: Backlund sweeps in a cross-ice pass for lead
Unsung moment of the game
With the Flames leading 2-1 in the final two minutes, forward Sam Bennett chased after a puck that had been dumped into the Detroit zone. Howard beat Bennett to the puck, but was forced to hurry his pass and shot it into the stands for a delay-of-game penalty.
They said it
"This was an important win, especially with another game on Monday. Starting a long trip with a win takes a lot of pressure off us." -- Flames coach Glen Gulutzan
"Losing is not fun, but we have to turn this around. We've got to grind out a win." -- Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg
Need to know
Backlund played his 400th NHL game. … Flames forward TJ Brodie, who grew up across the border in Chatham, Ontario, had a large group of family and friends at the game. … Vanek returned to the Red Wings lineup after missing 11 games because of a middle-body injury.
Flames: At the Buffalo Sabres on Monday (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, SNW, NHL.TV)
Red Wings: At the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, FS-D+, NHL.TV)
Video: Backlund, Flames edge Red Wings, 3-2