Two up, two down.
Maybe going on the road is what the doctor ordered, after all.
The Red Wings played another gritty, less-is-more game in Calgary and beat the Flames, 4-3, to go 2-0 on their 4-game road trip.
It was a bad second period sandwiched by two good ones that got the job done tonight. That, and the old adage of “throw the puck at the net because you never know what can happen.”
That’s exactly what Joakim Andersson did early in the third period. Andersson was deep in the corner to the left of Flames goalie Joey MacDonald (yes, that Joey MacDonald) and fired the puck along the ice toward the crease. The puck went off Joey Mac’s skate and trickled between his legs and just like that, the Red Wings led, 3-2. It’s never a bad angle if it goes in!
With under 4:00 to play, Justin Abdelkader netted his second goal of the season when he beat MacDonald high on the short side. It proved to be the game winner, as the Flames scored a flukey goal of their own with :10 to play.
I liked the effort once again on the road. I was interested to see if the Red Wings would follow up their win in Vancouver with the same nose-to-the-grindstone play in Calgary, and they did—in the first period. The EuroTwins—Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg—scored in the first period to forge a 2-0 lead. The second goal, by Z, was set up brilliantly by a nifty pass across the slot from Todd Bertuzzi.
I’m liking Bertuzzi on the line with Pavs and Z. Bertuzzi still has soft as silk hands for a big man, and he also possesses the hockey IQ needed to play with such skilled players. Bert may not have the legs of his predecessor on that line, Abdelkader, but he makes up for it with guile and instinct.
The second period was one to forget, but the Wings have played five good periods out of six on the trip so far.
After the Flames scored twice in the second to tie the game, the Red Wings got back to basics, won lots of the little battles for the puck, and kept the Flames without the puck for long stretches in the third period.
The Red Wings’ PK went 5-for-5, which didn’t hurt.
BOTTOM LINE: The Red Wings are quickly learning that they will have to outwork opponents more than they have had to in the past. When they put their minds to it, and work hard, their skill and experience will reap the rewards.
THE WINGED WHEELER SAYS: Getting two goals from the fourth line and two from the big boys makes for a good night. The Oilers await the Red Wings in Edmonton, and the first 10 minutes of Saturday night’s game will be yet another test. Already, Detroit is assured of at least a .500 trip. That’s fine, but now is not the time to let up.