Keeping It Close; But No Cigar

Flames Stay with the Wings But Can't Find Points

March 3rd, 2004

Keepin' it close.

That's been the plan for the Calgary Flames the past few weeks, a span of games that have had them play a lot of road games against a lot of tough opponents.

In some games, like last night in St. Louis, the plan works to perfection as they find a few late goals and pull one out. 

However in other circumstances they come up short. They found the short end of the stick in Ottawa, in New Jersey, and at home to Detroit last week. The same was true on Wednesday night when the Flames dropped a carbon copy 2-1 decision to those very same Red Wings, this time in Joe Louis Arena.

Hockey often has its share of ironic twists and turns.

This morning, the already battered Motor City squad had another key injury when Kris Draper went down with a shoulder injury at practice.

No worries Wing fans ... his replacement, Mark Mowers, filled in nicely, scoring the game winner in the third period.

The veteran Wings, losers of only two home contests all season, were flat on their heels to start this one, as the visiting Flames, tired from a game the night before, came out hard and carried the Lion's share of the play.

The Flames had the Wings deep in their own zone for most of the first period, and if not for the great goaltending of Manny Legace, or the tight hands of some Flame forwards they would have likely secured a one or two goal lead.

Legace, the author of a similar 2-1 win in Calgary last week, was a great stand in as a number one goaltender, continuing his reputation as the league's best backup.

When the first period dust settled the Flames had a 12-5 lead in shots, and a boot-full of missed opportunities.

Once again in an ironic note, it was the Flames failure to score on the powerplay that did them in on a night when yet another grizzled powerplay QB, Bryan Leetch was traded.

The Flames came up empty twice in the first and three more times in the second, in what was truly the difference in the game.

The ever powerful Wings, couldn't say the same, however, as Henrik Zetterberg broke a scoreless tie 12 and a half minutes into the second period. 

On the play Roman Turek had trouble with an unscreened point shot by Mathieu Schneider, a rebound popping out to a maze of skates and finally Zetterberg's tape for an easy tap in.

Calgary had a few more chances but it was the aformentioned Mowers that roofed a backhand chance over Turek to make it 2-0 midway through the third.

Jarome Iginla brought the Flames closer with a great individual play, but then the team lost a beat in the last minute, icing the puck twice and nixing any late game drama.

Next up for the Flames is a possible battle for 5th spot in the conference when they take to the ice against the Dallas Stars on Friday night.





1) Manny Legace - Simply the difference in two 2-1 Detroit over Calgary victories in six days. A very underrated goaltender.

2) Mark Mowers - Off the bench in style with a very pretty back hand goal for the game winner.

3) Robyn Regehr - No goals, no assists, but three shots on goal and a great physical performance against Wing talent.

Legace got his pad over in time to rob Craig Conroy with the Flames pressing during some sustained pressure in the third period. Later he showed great patience in keeping with Stephane Yelle brought the puck out of the corner.

Wily vet Steve Thomas didn't hold up an ounce when he stapled Calgary defenceman Andrew Ference into the boards in the second.

Gord Miller of TSN, in talking about the trade deadline on Tuesday, mentioned that "I talked to Darryl Sutter today and he thinks he may have a move or two in the bag". Who? Where? Fun time of the season isn't it? You have to forgive Calgary fans for getting a little excited about trade movement this season as the Calgary chapter is finally a potential buyer and not the perennial seller. ... Also on TSN, Pierre McGuire mentioned a conversation with new Flame Ville Nieminen in the first period. Apparently Nieminen feels the Flames are the most fit team he's played with since his Cup year in Colorado. ... The Flames held the Wings to only 21 shots on the night. ... The Wings took the game away on back to back silly penalties in the second period. First a silly call against Denis Gauthier for interference when the Flame blueliner was simply finishing a check. Later, and the one that ended up in their net, Stephane Yelle showed poor judgment when he pulled a Wing down deep in the Detroit zone. ... The Flames suffered very little damage on the out of town scoreboard on the night with the Predators losing in Philadelphia, and neither the Kings nor Blues set to play. The Stars are playing the Jackets tonight, and lead 2-1 in the second. ... Jarome Iginla's goal, his 34th of the season, and 15th in his last 16 games, leaves him one back of Rick Nash, and two back of league leader Illya Kovalchuk.

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