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Red Wings lack energy, fall to Calgary 3-0 to close homestand

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Another first on the season for the Red Wings, and this one, they wanted to stay away from for a while.

But Calgary came into Little Caesars Arena Thursday and defeated the Red Wings 3-0.

That capped the season-opening four-game homestand with a 2-1-1 record (5 points), not awful by any stretch, but just a touch off what the Wings would have preferred.

"Over the first two periods we created enough chances to score and we didn't," coach Jeff Blashill said. "We didn't have the same level of energy that we've had, especially in the third period."

Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane and Matthew Tkachuk (empty net) scored for the Flames, while goalie Jacob Markstrom had 33 saves to earn his first shutout.

Calgary celebrates a goal by center Elias Lindholm during the first period of a game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Calgary Flames, at Little Caesars Arena, in Detroit, October 21, 2021.

The Wings failed on three power plays, while killing two Calgary power plays.

The Wings' power play had an opportunity to make an impact, especially in the second period with the Wings trailing 2-0 but the Wings seemingly possessing all the momentum, but couldn't covert.

"Everyone (opposing teams) watches video and does their homework," said forward Dylan Larkin, of the Wings' power play that has stalled a bit. "The passes weren't crisp enough, we fumbled pucks and we have to be way sharper as a five-man unit. 

"The whole game was kind of choppy. There was no flow, guys fighting the puck and not much going on. Give them credit, Calgary played a good road game."

Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 27 shots while looking for his first win of the young season (0-1-1), and couldn't match Markstrom's performance.

"Ned was good, gave up two (goals) and we didn't score for him, it's hard to say anything, but he played good," Blashill said. "Their goalie played real good, too, and we didn't get it by him."

Markstrom struggled in his first two games for the Flames (1-1-1), but lifted his game considerably against the Wings. The Wings had consistent offensive pressure in the first two periods, but Markstrom was able to fend off the slew of shots.

The Wings out-shot Calgary 14-4 in the second period and had two power plays, but Markstrom turned aside the consistent pressure the Wings had, maintaining the 2-0 Calgary lead.

The best saves Markstrom had in the second period came at even strength, making nice saves on Moritz Seider in the slot and Nick Leddy from near the hashmarks, on a particularly effective Wings shift.

"Through two periods we had some good looks," Blashill said. 

Calgary opened the scoring Thursday at 10:06 of the first period, with Lindholm earning his third goal.

Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau controlled the puck from behind the net and fed Lindholm in the slot, beating Nedeljkovic and putting the Wings behind on the scoreboard for the first time this season.

The deficit grew to 2-0 just over four minutes later.

Nedeljkovic made the save on a point shot by defenseman Rasmus Andersson from the point, but the puck dribbled into the slot. Mangiapane found the puck in a maze of sticks and backhanded a shot past Nedeljkovic at 14:33, Mangiapane's second goal.

Markstrom kept the Wings off the scoreboard in the period, his best save arguably on Pius Suter, who had a prime opportunity in the slot.

Tkachuk ended any suspense with an empty net goal, just moments after Nedeljkovic raced to the bench, Tkachuk's first goal of the season.

Detroit center Robby Fabbri reacts after blocking a shot during the first period of a game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Calgary Flames, at Little Caesars Arena, in Detroit, October 21, 2021.

Coaches like to break the schedule into segments and Jeff Blashill is no different.

Blashill said Wednesday he likes to break the schedule into five-game intervals, while grading players individually into 10-game segments.

"If you get six out of 10 points every five-game segment, if you extrapolate that over 82 games, including the couple extra games you have in there, you're at about 98 points for the season, which generally is a playoff team," Blashill said. "It helps kind of give you a parameter of where you're at."

The Wings have a chance to reach that six-point benchmark Saturday in Montreal, the first of a quick two-game road trip (Sunday in Chicago). Ironically, both teams have struggled out of the gate and will likely be desperate teams.

"Calgary was desperate, they hadn't won, and they were more desperate than we were," Larkin said. "Montreal and Chicago, they're going to be fighting and scratching and clawing for everything they can get. We have to have the same attitude and match their desperation."

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan