CALGARY, Alberta — Tomas Holmstrom made himself right at home in front of the Calgary Flames' goal and gave the Detroit Red Wings' playoff push a huge boost.
Holmstrom scored his 20th goal of the season on a deflection with 1:19 left in the third period to lift the Red Wings to an important 2-1 road victory over the Flames on Monday night.
Stationed at the top of the Flames' goal crease directly in front of goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, as he was most of the night, Holmstrom reached out and redirected Johan Franzen's slap shot out of the air and into the net to break a 1-1 tie.
“It looked like (Franzen) was going to get control of the puck so I just hung around the net. He knows where I am and I was lucky to get my stick on it,” Holmstrom said.
The Red Wings (34-23-12) extended their lead to three points ahead of the Flames (34-26-9) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 13 games remaining for each team.
“Every game against them is like a playoff game,” Holmstrom said. “But we really needed this game and it was uphill pretty much from the first couple shifts when they scored. It was a good, grinding 60 minutes from us.”
Pavel Datsyuk also scored for Detroit, which won its third straight.
Craig Conroy had the lone goal for Calgary, loser of two in a row following a four-game winning streak.
“I hope there's some guys disappointed in there. There better be. We found ways to lose two games here when we need to find ways to win games,” Calgary coach Brent Sutter saod. “Tonight, we had a chance and never made the most of the opportunity. Last night we beat ourselves because we had a brutal first period.”
The Flames lost 3-1 Sunday night at Vancouver.
“It's disappointing,” Flames defenseman Steve Staios said. “We played well enough to have a chance to win that game. Now we find ourselves in a more difficult situation, but we'll have to show a lot of resilience and see what we're made of now.”
The Flames had a great chance to take a 2-1 lead when Brian Rafalski's high-stick on Conroy early in the third period put Calgary on a four-minute power play.
However, the Flames managed just two shots on goal during the lengthy man-advantage, and the Pengrowth Saddledome crowd of 19,289 started booing the Flames as they failed repeatedly to get set up in the Detroit zone.
“You'd like to find ways to get a goal, but also get scoring chances and keep momentum, so that was definitely a missed opportunity,” Flames captain Jarome Iginla said.
Detroit's penalty-killing continued to be excel, stretching its streak to six games without allowing a power-play goal — killing off 19 penalties during the span.
“It was unbelievable, guys were getting sticks in the lane, they broke up passes, we collapsed down and didn't really give them much of anything,” Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard said. “When the power play's constantly having to turn their back and go back and get the puck, it leaves them no time to get set up.”
With Calgary up 1-0, Curtis Glencross had a great chance to put the Flames up by two when was awarded a penalty shot after being hooked from behind while on a short-handed breakaway.
However, Glencross' shot was kicked out by Howard.
“It's only one opportunity all night. There's 60 other minutes in the game. He made a nice save and there's nothing I can do about it,” said Glencross, who was trying for his fourth short-handed goal.
The Red Wings capitalized with a power-play goal 40 seconds later. With Holmstrom stationed at the top of the goal crease obstructing Kiprusoff's view, Datsyuk scored his 22nd goal to tie the score at 1-1.
Detroit finished the night 1 for 1 with the extra man while Calgary went 0 for 3.
The Flames are 2 for 23 with the extra man over their last eight games.
Calgary opened the scoring 1:47 into the first period taking advantage of Andreas Lilja's inability to clear the puck out of the Red Wings' end. Conroy was right alone at the side of the net to tuck in puck after Nigel Dawes' shot trickled wide.
NOTES: Glencross had Calgary's first penalty shot of the season. ... Calgary LW Chris Higgins (lower body injury) did not play, opening up a lineup spot for Dawes — who suited up for the first time in seven games. ... Detroit LW Todd Bertuzzi has gone 17 games without a goal. ... Detroit, not playing again until Friday night in Edmonton, will spend its days off in Kelowna, British Columbia. Two practices are planned for the scenic Okanagan Valley town as well as various team-building activities. ... Detroit has scored a power-play goal in 10 consecutive games... The Red Wings have killed off 46 of their last 49 short-handed opportunities over the past 16 games.