The Detroit Red Wings hosted the Calgary Flames at Little Caesars Arena for their first meeting since February 23, 2020. Coming into the game, the Red Wings have picked up five of an available six points to start this year. This game is their final game at home before a three game road trip. Meanwhile, the Flames enter having just one point out of an available four for them. This season is still young, and if we have learned anything from previous years, it’s about how you finish not how well you start. That is not to dismiss this fast start for the Red Wings, nor is it to click the panic button on the Flames.
Early on in the first period the Red Wings seemed to control the pace of play. The Flames did not even record a shot on goal until six minutes in. Chippiness was evident as long time league enforcer Milan Lucic of the Flames dropped the mitts against the young Givani Smith. Smith got a couple shots in before being yanked and losing his balance. This fight-win for Lucic appeared to get the Flames going and able to gain some sustained pressure in the offensive zone. Finally, they were able to get the first goal of the game on a shot from in the slot. Elias Lindholm slammed home a pass from Johnny Gaudreau. Calgary did not stop there. Andrew Mangiapane got his second of the season, flipping the puck in from just outside the crease. Detroit lost all momentum and welcomed the intermission.
After a strong first, Calgary was chomping at the bit to keep their offense clicking. This would not be the case, as they could not find the net, adding only a couple shots on goal for the first fifteen minutes of the period. Fortunately for them, Jacob Markstrom, their goaltender, stepped up making some big saves early in the second. Coming into the game, Calgary struggled on the penalty kill. They were able to successfully kill both penalties in the period, they did not even allow a shot on goal in either.
Detroit, though, did get things clicking, they got their fore check pressuring and took a heavy lead in the shot totals. However, Markstrom continued to have a strong game and blocked everything that came his way.
Calgary began the third with a strong two goal lead. This lead looked in danger early when they took another penalty. After a couple threatening moments around Calgary’s goal, the Red Wings received a penalty of their own. What little momentum they seemed to be gaining disappeared. After two and a half periods of failing to find the back of the net, Jeff Blashill made the choice to shake up the lines for the Red Wings. This move was unsuccessful, as they continued to struggle with passing and finishing any plays. Calgary’s play continued to stifle any offensive threats, so with a little over two minutes left the Red Wings pulled their goalie. Matthew Tkachuk found himself with the puck in his own zone and fired a laser all the way down for an empty net goal. The Flames blanked the Red Wings, 3-0
Calgary looked composed and strong on the puck. Their passing was direct and controlled, with very few mistakes overall for them. Compared to their first couple games, they were successful at killing off the penalties they did take. Their star of the game was absolutely Markstrom. Stepping up big, the previously hot Red Wings offense was muted all game. Defense played a big role for them as well. Markstrom stopped all 33 shots, but the defensemen in front of him continuously shook up the Wings players and never allowed Detroit to get comfortable in the offense. They pick up their first win of the season and look to keep rolling against Washington on Saturday.
Detroit kept the scrappy play and retained the one-for-all-and-all-for-one attitude. They are now third in the league in penalty minutes, although this game was much cleaner for them compared to the previous few, only having nine this time around. Even though they failed to even get a goal this game, the offense found ways to get shots on the net at least. The biggest problem for them was the connectivity, they appeared to just be a miss. Twelve recorded giveaways is not something you want to see in a game. With a laundry list of things to clean up, they hope to take their first regulation loss of the season in stride and bounce back on the road against the struggling Montreal Canadians on Saturday night.
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