Calgary’s lengthy early-season road trip finally comes to an end on Sunday afternoon when it visits Detroit.
The Flames have gone 1-2-1 on their five-game journey, including a 3-1 loss to Columbus on Friday. Their only win since taking their home opener against Winnipeg was a 4-3 triumph at Buffalo on Thursday.
Elias Lindholm’s short-handed goal midway through the third period was their lone score against the Blue Jackets. The Flames spent a lot of time in the penalty box, racking up 24 minutes for infractions.
“Probably our worst game of the trip. We know we have to play better, and we have to find a way to turn this around for Sunday to make it a good trip,” center Mikael Backlund said.
Calgary had more shots on goal but wound up with two or fewer goals for the third time during the trip.
“I thought it was a slow start for us,” head coach Ryan Huska said. “The first 15 minutes or so, they were the better team — which is a little bit to be expected when we’re in a back-to-back. Then, I thought we steadily got better as the night went along. At the end of the day, the lack of a little execution on the offensive side of it with our puck-handling around the net probably cost us the game.”
The Flames got in a practice at Detroit’s home facility on Saturday.
“It’s big,” forward Blake Coleman told the team’s website about going .500 on the trip. “Obviously, you’d rather be a game above .500 on the road, but 2-2-1 would be pretty solid and put us in a pretty decent situation going home, where the onus would then be on us to take care of business. You’d feel a lot better about your game going home with five points versus three, that’s for sure.”
Dylan Larkin had a goal and three assists as the Wings won both meetings last season, 2-1 and 5-2.
Detroit will be playing the second game of a back-to-back. The Red Wings extended their winning streak to four games on Saturday with a 5-2 road win over Ottawa.
The power play, which has been a sore spot for Detroit in recent years, continued to produce dividends. The Wings scored three times with the man advantage. They’ve converted on half of their 18 power-play opportunities this season.
“Good habits on it,” coach Derek Lalonde said of the improved power play. “I love the fact that all of our power play goals came off retrievals — either a loose puck or a 50-50 along the wall that we turned into quick offense.”
Joe Veleno scored the even-strength goals on Saturday while Larkin, Shayne Gostisbehere and David Perron had the power-play tallies. Ville Husso made 35 saves.
“Good road win. I thought we handled some adversity well,” Lalonde said. “When you play a really good team on the road, there are times when you’re going to be on your heels. Ville was excellent, up to the task and very good special teams tonight, which was a big part of the win.”
Backup goaltender James Reimer, who recorded a shutout Monday against Columbus in his Red Wings’ debut, is expected to start on Sunday.