The Calgary Flames and Detroit Red Wings both lost their first game after the All-Star break. One of them will get a much-needed victory when they square off in Detroit on Thursday night.
The Flames began a stretch of four consecutive road contests after the layoff with a 5-4 overtime loss to the New York Rangers.
Calgary has been spinning its wheels since a three-game winning streak in early December. The Flames have gone 11-7-7 since that modest streak, unable to string together more than two consecutive victories.
They did emerge from New York with a sense of unity. They didn’t back down from some rugged hits doled out by the Rangers. There were eight fighting or roughing penalties handed out in the first two periods.
“I don’t think we’ve had a game like that this year,” defenseman MacKenzie Weegar said. “That just shows to everybody and, most importantly, to us in the dressing room that we’re not going to back down from anybody and we’re going to stand up when times are needed. We’re just going to keep this momentum and just like before the break and after and keep this road trip going.”
Even Dillon Dube dropped his gloves, as he mixed it up with Rangers tough guy Jacob Trouba after Nazem Kadri sustained a hard hit. It was Dube’s first NHL fight.
“I know every single guy in the locker room would do the exact same for me,” Dube said. “I was the closest guy to step up and help guys out.”
The bottom line was the Flames wound up with their seventh loss in nine overtime games or shootouts since the early December streak. Calgary led 4-3 in the third period.
“I liked the way we competed and battled,” forward Andrew Mangiapane said. “We need to take a lesson here that when we’re up 4-3, we’ve just got to manage the game and play to win there.”
The Red Wings lost at home to Edmonton 5-2 on Tuesday. The Oilers scored three second-period goals. Detroit was down 3-2 most of the third period before the Oilers scored a power-play goal with 4:22 remaining.
“It was 3-2 and they got a power-play goal, and we had been so good on the penalty kill all night,” captain Dylan Larkin said. “That’s what good power plays do, they score at the right time. We didn’t have the response.”
Detroit had a 13-7-5 record after two early December victories. The Red Wings have gone 8-13-3 since and, like Calgary, haven’t been able to put more than two wins together.
“We were right there but it’s still not enough,” Larkin said. “It is frustrating we can’t find traction. But there’s still a little bit of time for us.”
The reality is that the Wings have to grind out victories because they don’t have enough gifted scorers.
“We’ve got to finish,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “I know it sounds simple. I know we’re not natural finishers, goal-scorers, we don’t have a ton of 30-, 40-, 50-goal scorers on our team. We actually don’t have any of them, really. It’s kind of got to be by a group. We’ve just got to cash in some of those chances.”
–Field Level Media