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Holmstrom's late goal lifts Wings in Calgary

by Brian Compton
Tomas Holmstrom has never had a problem crashing the net.

His willingness to do so on Monday night now has the Detroit Red Wings three points ahead of the Calgary Flames for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Holmstrom's redirection of Johan Franzen's shot with 1:19 remaining broke a 1-1 tie as the Red Wings won their third straight with a 2-1 regulation victory against the Flames in front of a stunned crowd of 19,289 at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

"We really stuck to our game plan," Holmstrom said after tallying his team-leading fifth game-winning goal of the season. "It was a good goal late in the third. Every game is like a playoff game. We have to show up every night."

Pavel Datsyuk also scored and Jimmy Howard made 22 saves for Detroit, which now has a rare three days off before visiting Edmonton on Friday night. The Wings will spend their free time in Kelowna, British Columbia, where a pair of practices is planned for the scenic town, as well as other team-building functions.

"It was a big win for our team," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "Guys dug in today. It was a big win. It's not the playoffs, but it's a big game for both teams. We'll get a day off tomorrow and then we're really going to work for two days to get ready for a big push. That's what this is all about."  

Craig Conroy scored for the Flames, who have just two goals in back-to-back losses and four tallies in their last three contests. Miikka Kiprusoff made 26 saves.

"We've got to find ways to win games," Calgary coach Brent Sutter said. "That's two games in a row now we've found ways to lose. Tonight we had a chance and never made the most of the opportunity."

Calgary needed only 1:47 to get on the scoreboard, as Conroy collected Nigel Dawes' rebound and backhanded it past Howard to give the Flames a 1-0 lead. It was Conroy's third goal of the season.

The Flames had a glorious chance to go up by a pair with 2:06 left in the second period, when Henrik Zetterberg hooked Curtis Glencross on a shorthanded breakaway. Glencross was awarded a penalty shot -- the Flames' first of the season-- but was denied by Howard to keep it a one-goal game.

"It's not like Glennie didn't try to go down and score," Sutter said. "We needed to have a kill right away, and we didn't do it."

Datsyuk tied the game just over a minute later, as he took a pass from Brian Rafalski and fired a wrist shot from the slot past Kiprusoff -- who was screened by Holmstrom -- for his 22nd goal of the season. It was the only power play Detroit received all night.

"That would have made it 2-0, so I think the momentum carried back over to us," Howard said after recording the 27th win of his rookie season. "Pav was able to bury it, so we had the momentum at the end of the period and we just tried to carry it over into the third."  

The Flames had a great chance to regain the lead when Rafalski was handed a four-minute penalty for getting his stick in Conroy's face. But Calgary mustered only two shots on goal during the man advantage as Detroit made it six straight games without allowing a power-play goal. Calgary, meanwhile, is 2-for-23 with the man advantage over its last eight games.

"When we got the penalty shot called against us, Howie made a great save and we scored on the power play … I thought that was a real big point in the game, and then our four-minute kill when Raffi went in the box was absolutely huge," Babcock said. "I thought our guys played hard as a group here tonight."

Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.

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