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Wings take foot off pedal, lose to Flames

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

For the second time this season, Justin Abdelkader scored two goals in a game. However, the Red Wings lost, 5-2, to the visiting Flames on Friday. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT – The Red Wings were in the driver’s seat Friday.

Then the second period got underway.

Trailing by two goals early, the Calgary Flames scored five unanswered times en route to handing the Red Wings a 5-2 loss in front of the 175th consecutive sold-out crowd at Joe Louis Arena.

“We did come out strong like we wanted to for the first five, 10 minutes,” said Justin Abdelkader, who scored both Wings’ goals. “We knew they played last night so we wanted to establish our game and I thought we did a good job of that. Then we didn’t have enough sustained pressure. We turned the puck over too much. … They’re a team that skates really well, especially their back end. They found ways to create chances and when they did, they scored on them.”

The loss was just the third in regulation by more than one goal for the Wings this season. The other losses were to the Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 16 (4-1) and Feb. 16 (2-0).

Detroit built a 2-0 lead before the first period reached the midway point on Abdelkader’s goals that came just 5:07 apart. His first tally was set-up by Henrik Zetterberg’s incredible stretch pass at 3:05 of the period.

The tape-to-tape pass – which traveled an estimated 120 feet from goal line to opposite blue line – was one-timed by Zetterberg who took a pass from Erik Cole below the Wings’ goal line. Abdelkader managed to sneak behind the Flames’ defense before cruising in alone and sniping a wrist shot over goalie Jonas Hiller’s right catching glove.

The play also represented Cole’s first point since joining the Red Wings in a trade from Dallas last Sunday.

“That’s the kind of player he is,” Abdelkader said of his captain. “He skates with his head up. He’s really smart and he kind of knows the play he’s going to make before he makes it. He’s kind of thinking ahead of his opponents out there.”

Even defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who’s had a front-row seat for Zetterberg’s heroics for years, was mystified by what he saw early in the first period.

“Yeah, it’s one of those where you’re sitting on the bench, you’re looking at each other, and ‘Did you see that?’” Kronwall said. “That’s what Hank does. Pav (Datsyuk) is the same thing. They make the plays that not everybody else sees, and they make the game look easy.”

Zetterberg’s entire line struck again, figuring on the second goal when Abdelkader attacked the crease – getting behind Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman – to collect his sixth power-play goal of the season at 8:12. It was just the second power-play goal allowed by the Flames in the last 17 games, but the first time that a Red Wings’ trio has collaborated on multi-goals in the same game this season.

On the first goal, Abdelkader got open when he reacted to the Flames’ defensemen collapsing in the Wings’ zone.

“Originally I was trying to get out of the zone on the strong side for Z and the puck went behind the net,” he said. “I kind of looped back toward the middle and I saw their D pressing up and decided to stay out because we had full possession and Z made a great play.”

But after giving up two quick goals, the Flames’ defense picked up the pace in front of Hiller, who made 22 saves to improve to 20-17-3 on the season. The Flames blocked 21 shots, including 12 in the final 40 minutes.

“They block shots but I don’t like blocking tons of shots, I like playing in their end,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “You can give it to them and block the shot and it counts as a good thing on the stat (sheet) but that’s not a priority for me. Priority for me is to have lots of shots on goal and lots of offensive zone play and let them block the shots and let’s just play in their zone.”

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