DETROIT - Mike Babcock talked a lot about work on Thursday after putting his Detroit Red Wings through a short-but-intense workout prior to playing Calgary at Joe Louis Arena.
He talked about fighting harder in puck battles. He talked about getting a strong start and then attacking relentlessly in waves. Then the Wings came out in the first period against the Flames and did almost the exact opposite.
Luckily for Detroit, a hockey game has three periods -- and the Wings turned things around in the final two to go home with a 4-2 victory.
"I thought we were going to start great, so what do I know?" said Babcock, who still wasn't pleased with his team's overall play after being outshot 36-30. "I thought we were going to be fantastic here tonight, so we're going to look at it and try to get better. We can skate better than we're skating right now. We have to figure it out as a group."
No Wing's hard work was more important than Johan Franzen, who nudged home the go-ahead goal with 12:05 left in regulation.
But Franzen agreed that Detroit's slow starts are troubling -- this time, the Wings trailed 2-1 after one period thanks to hard work by Calgary's third line, led by 21-year old center Mikael Backlund. He scored twice against Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard (34 saves) in the first period for his first two goals and points of the season.
The Wings just didn't have any energy until they came out for the second period.
"We worked hard, but maybe we were a little slow coming out in the first period," said Franzen, whose fourth goal of the season came in his first game back since sitting out a game with a concussion. "We haven't played since Saturday. That's hard. When you haven't played in awhile, it's hard to get your legs going right away from the get-go. We've been slow starters a little bit this year. Better to start slow than end slow, though."
Franzen made sure of that 7:55 into the third with the game tied 2-2. He found Todd Bertuzzi in front of Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff with a pass, and Bertuzzi then fired a shot that was blocked to the side of the goal.
Franzen scooped up the rebound and lifted it onto Kiprusoff's back. Kiprusoff (26 saves) tried to balance the puck between his shoulder blades, but it appeared to cross the goal line and then slid off his back into the goal after a slight bump by Franzen.
The goal was allowed after a review, giving a lift to the Wings and their fans -- who'd watched Detroit get outshot 27-23 to that point. Still, the Wings will take it. It's another two points, another entry in the win column and came on a night when several of their big guns -- who'd been stymied offensively in the first five games -- erased zeroes from their season stat lines.
Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom both scored their first goals andTomas Holmstrom tallied his first point of the season by assisting on Zetterberg's goal in the first. Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Bertuzzi each had two-point games, with Bertuzzi adding a goal late to pad the lead.
Lidstrom's goal on a slap shot from the point at 3:51 of the second came on a power play. It tied the game 2-2 and gave the Red Wings some production they've been searching for on the power play - which finished 1-for-5.
"We've been working a lot the last few days on the power play, getting shots through," Lidstrom said. "So it feels good to get a goal on it."
It was another rough game against Detroit for Calgary star Jerome Iginla, who didn't record a point and finished minus-2. Iginla, who has just 1 goal and 1 assist this season, is now a minus-8 in his last 22 games against the Wings (4-1-1).
"I try not to get frustrated, but it's definitely not going as well as you'd hope," Iginla said. "There's been some tight games this year and I haven't been able to produce for the team and get on a roll and help out in that area."
Detroit's win also snapped a three game losing streak at home against Calgary that dated back to the 2008-09 season.
Backlund got the scoring started 15:24 into the first period with his first goal and first point of the season.Curtis Glencross found him with a pass from the corner and Backlund one-timed it from 20 feet away into the net.
Zetterberg then scored his first goal of the season at 17:29 of the first by redirecting a great pass by Datsyuk to tie it 1-1 before Backlund - from the same hometown in Sweden as Lidstrom -- struck again at 18:10 by poking the puck past Howard.