There’s been a lot of losses this season — and the Red Wings will surely have more these last couple months — but this was a particular galling one.
Twice the Wings had leads in the third period, and for stretches Friday they outplayed the Western Conference-leading Calgary Flames, only to ultimately lose 6-4.
This was fun hockey, a throwback, wide-open game to an era of hockey played long ago.
But the Wings would have simply enjoyed to have won, with a lot less fireworks.
The Wings led 4-3 at 8:35 of the third period when Dylan Larkin — who had one of his best games of the season — scored his 20th goal, and second of the game.
The Wings appeared to have control. But Calgary struck quickly and thoroughly, tying the score and regaining the lead on one special-teams sequence.
Mark Giordano’s shorthanded goal — Calgary’s NHL-leading 15th shorthanded goal — tied the score at 14:03.
"When we go over the boards there with a 4-3 lead, we've got to at least keep the puck out of our net on the power play," Larkin told reporters. "We've got to be smarter with the puck."
Then, just 2:03 later with Calgary on the power play, Flames forward Sam Bennett scored his second power-play goal of the evening, converting a 2-on-1 rush, putting Calgary ahead for good.
T.J. Brodie’s empty-net goal finished the scoring.
Detroit's goals: Anthony Mantha opened the scoring on a 5-on-3 power-play goal at 19:01 of the first period. Larkin made it 2-1 at 13:25 of the second period, coming out of the corner and snapping a shot past goalie Mike Smith. Mike Green opened the third period with his fourth goal, giving the Wings a 3-2 lead at 4:16. Larkin scored his 20th, and second of the game, off a beautiful feed from Gustav Nyquist who found Larkin trailing the play, at 8:35.
Larkin dominant: Larkin had two goals, giving him 20, and now has 25 points in his last 22 games. The second goal, following up on Nyquist’s rush and finishing a nifty pass from Nyquist, will be on every highlight package for the game.
Happy homecoming: Returning to his hometown of Calgary, defenseman Mike Green had a goal — a nice one at that, pinching from the point and beating Smith with a sweeping backhander — and assist in 20 minutes, 12 seconds. Green also took the third-period penalty that gave Calgary the opportunity to go ahead on Bennett’s second goal.
Calgary goals: Sam Bennett had two power-play goals, James Neal had a power-play goal, Mark Giordano scored shorthanded, Sean Monahan had the lone even-strength goal, and T.J. Brodie scored in the empty net.
Special-teams problems: This area was one-sided. Calgary went a perfect 3-for-3 on the power play, along with a third period, tying shorthanded goal, while the Wings were 1-for-5 — and were progressively worse as the game went on. The Wings had particular problems with zone entry as the game progressed.
"We couldn't get in the zone," Mantha told reporters. "We have to blame ourselves. We knew the way they were waiting for us at the blue line there and we just couldn't handle their pressure."
Goaltending: Jimmy Howard made 30 stops but was under barrage most of the evening. Calgary’s Mike Smith, though looking uneven at times, had 31 saves and made a nice play on the empty-net goal, skating out of the net and making the lead pass to get the Flames going on the rush.
Rookie wall: Defenseman Dennis Cholowski had a minus-3 rating in 15 minutes, 3 seconds and again looked hesitant at times. Filip Hronek was a healthy scratch for a second consecutive game, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Hronek in for Cholowski in the near future.
Red Wings at Canucks
Faceoff: 4 p.m., Sunday, Rogers Arena.
Outlook: Vancouver (22-21-6) was expected to be among the NHL’s cellar-dwellers — instead its fighting for a playoff spot….C Elias Pettersson, the likely NHL Rookie of the Year, is expected to return to the lineup (22 goals, 20 assists) after injuring himself Jan. 3.