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Power-play drought comes to an end

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings' Valtteri Filppula battles Flames winger Blake Comeau Wednesday at the Saddledome in Calgary. (Photo by Getty Images)

CALGARY – Finally!

The Red Wings ended one of the most improbable streaks in recent franchise history Wednesday night when Valtteri Filppula scored the team’s first road power-play goal of the season.

Filppula’s goal at 16:39 of the second period did more than tie the Calgary Flames at 2-2 on the scoreboard. It just may have given the Red Wings a mental lift moving forward as they continue on a stretch of seven of the next eight games on the road.

“The power play is one thing that hasn’t been working well, and it was nice to get a goal, but it didn’t really have an effect on the score today,” said Filppula, who returned to the lineup after missing seven games with a sprained left shoulder. “Hopefully our power play starts to play better and we can take that advantage to the next game.”

The Wings’ power play had gone more than 11 straight road games without registering a single goal. The powerless road stretch is the longest in the league to start a season since 1989-90, which is one more game than the first-year Minnesota Wild went without a road power-play goal to begin the 2000-01 campaign.

Unfortunately for the Wings, the Flames got three third-period goals by Lee Stempniak, Curtis Glencross and Blake Comeau to help hand the Red Wings a 5-2 loss at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Throughout the first 40-minutes, the Red Wings looked like they were skating with an extra man as they held a 27-11 advantage in shots on goal over the Flames in the first two periods. The Flames also blocked another 13 shot attempts. Detroit’s defenders were also outstanding, clearing pucks from the defensive zone and giving the forwards chances to go on the offensive. The only problem for the Wings, though, was they didn’t get more offense beyond goals by Niklas Kronwall and Filppula.

Detroit entered Wednesday’s game without a power-play goal on 51 shots in 36 road attempts. Futility reached 0-for-37 on 54 shots when the Wings came up empty on their only power-play chance of the first period.

But after former teammate Jiri Hudler received a minor penalty for goaltender interference – he bowled over Jonas Gustavsson – the Wings’ special team unit turned up the heat on their second power-play opportunity.

The Wings got three shots on Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, before Filppula, who was cruising around the right side of the Flames’ crease, wristed a shot over the fallen Kiprusoff.

Though Filppula missed 2 ½ weeks, captain Henrik Zetterberg said that his linemate looked sharp in his return.

“He skated well, made some nice plays,” Zetterberg said. “It was nice to see him get that first power-play goal on the road. It didn’t look like he missed a beat.”

The second-period power play looked like a clinic as Zetterberg and Kyle Quincey had chances before Filppula scored. But Kiprusoff came up big on stopping Zetterberg, Filppula hit the left post and Quincey got a shot through from the right point that was smothered by the Flames’ veteran netminder with 22-seconds left in the man-advantage.

It was after the face-off win that Quincey got the puck back at the point, glided backwards toward the middle of the ice and send a blast that Kiprusoff kicked out with his left leg. But the puck went right to Filppula, who quickly flipped the puck over the goalie. It was Filppula's first power-play goal in more than a year.

“We had some good chances there, and obviously that gives you a little bit of momentum as well,” Filppula said. “It was good to get a goal, and if we can take something from this game, maybe we can keep improving our power play.”

Unfortunately, the Wings weren’t able to benefit from the momentum they had built in the first 40-minutes, as the Flames charged back in the third to win their fifth straight at home.

“It was ridiculous,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We killed ourselves tonight. It had nothing to do with them whatsoever. We had the puck the whole time and we just gave it to them. … Those are self-inflicted wounds.”

THREE STARS: 3, Curtis Glencross, CGY (1 goal, 1 assist); 2, Jay Bouwmeester, CGY (1 goal); 1, Miikka Kiprusoff, CGY (36 saves, W).

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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