The Detroit Red Wings are virtually unbeatable at home. They hope they have found the answer for success on the road, too.
Jiri Hudler scored the go-ahead goal at 11:29 of the third period, and Detroit also got contributions from its third and fourth lines in a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night.
”It’s a good road win,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. ”Any time after the All-Star break when you have to travel like we did and with the altitude, you know it’s going to be a grind. I thought we stuck with it.”
On the tiebreaking goal, Flames defenseman Chris Butler lost his balance and fell inside the Calgary blue line, allowing Valtteri Filppula to wheel around him and carry the puck deep into the zone. Filppula’s centering pass caromed off the side of the net and went right to Hudler, who had an empty net to shoot at as goalie Miikka Kiprusoff was trapped out of position.
”Fil was flying. Their guy fell down along the boards, and you’re not going to catch Fil with his speed,” Hudler said. ”I went to the middle, and just like all my coaches always taught me, make sure you’ve got your stick on the ice. I did and it just hit me.”
Drew Miller made it a two-goal cushion four minutes later, converting a pretty goal mouth pass from Danny Cleary. Cory Emmerton also scored for Detroit (34-16-1).
Jimmy Howard made 28 saves for his NHL-leading 31st victory. It was a solid bounce-back outing for Howard, who was pulled after the first period in his last game before the All-Star break after surrendering four goals to Montreal on 12 shots.
”You saw him, just calm and strong in there,” Hudler said. ”He was unbelievable. Good for him. He deserves all the respect he’s getting.”
The Red Wings, who have won 17 straight home games, are 1-1 on their five-game trip that continues Thursday night in Vancouver.
Mike Cammalleri scored the lone goal for Calgary (23-22-6), which has lost three straight at home following an eight-game winning streak there.
”It’s been a little bit of the same for us as of late,” Cammalleri said. ”It’s a habit we’re going to have to break, just playing a pretty simple game for the most part and not being able to finish the deal. A couple breakdowns late are really costing us.”
Detroit and Calgary split their four-game season series.
”We had some darn good opportunities and we didn’t capitalize,” Flames coach Brent Sutter said. ”It’s not like we’re not getting opportunities. We had three or four quality scoring chances where we missed the net and didn’t even get a rebound out of it.”
The Flames tied it 1-1 on Cammalleri’s power-play goal 1:59 into the second period. Alex Tanguay’s slap shot hit a Detroit player in front and fell at the feet of Cammalleri. His first shot was stopped, but he whacked the rebound past Howard with a backhander.
Cammalleri, acquired Jan. 12 in a trade with Montreal, scored the following night against Los Angeles in his first game with the Flames, but was held pointless in his previous four.
Despite outshooting Detroit 11-4 in the second period, Calgary couldn’t net the go-ahead goal. The Flames have been held to one goal or fewer in five of seven.
”We’ve got to capitalize on our chances,” Tanguay said. ”We have to score some more goals and make sure we find a way to rack up two points.”
Detroit struck first at 5:57 of the first period on a goal from its fourth line.
Justin Abdelkader’s slap shot from the wing was kicked out by Kiprusoff, but right onto the stick of Emmerton, who was breaking in on the other side. The Red Wings rookie buried his first goal in 11 games and fifth of the season.
”We did a really good job just skating, getting pucks in, getting pucks out,” Emmerton said. ”That’s the biggest thing for us, as a fourth line, is play simple, contribute when you can, but just wear on the other team, play physical and skate them. We did a pretty good job.”
Kiprusoff finished with 22 saves.
NOTES: The Flames honored former captain and assistant coach Brad McCrimmon, who died last summer in the Lokomotiv airplane crash in Russia. McCrimmon played on the Flames’ 1989 Stanley Cup-winning team. McCrimmon’s family was on hand for the pregame ceremony and video tribute. … Detroit LW Tomas Holmstrom (sore knees) didn’t play, but expects to play on Thursday. … Calgary RW Lee Stempniak (lower body) left the game in the first period. … Kiprusoff played in his 526th NHL game, tying him with Mike Vernon for first on the Flames’ career list for goalies. … Detroit ranks second to last in the NHL in average penalty minutes per game (8.4).