A huge performance from Miikka Kiprusoff on Friday night allowed his Calgary Flames to escape the Joe Louis Arena with both a 3-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings and sole possession of the Northwest Division lead.
Kiprusoff made 40 saves for his second shutout of the season, while Jamie Lundmark and Olli Jokinen had quick goals in the first and third periods, respectively as the Flames (15-6-3) eclipsed Colorado for first place in their division.
"[Kiprusoff] definitely kept us in the game," Lundmark said. "He had over 30 shots over the first two periods."
Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood wasn't quite as busy as his Calgary counterpart, making 14 saves in the loss that marked the second shutout defeat in as many games for Detroit (11-9-4), whose goal drought now stands at 153 minutes 22 seconds.
"We're getting the shots, getting chances, but the puck's not going in for us," Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "We have to continue to shoot the puck. We still have the confidence. You can't get frustrated, you can't let that get to you, you have to continue to dig in and work hard. It's going to turn for us."
Outshot 7-1 through the midway point of the first period, the Flames made that one shot count as Jamie Lundmark struck 28 seconds in.
With the Red Wings unable to clear the puck out of the slot, Jokinen gained possession and fired a no-look backhand pass to Lundmark at the top of the crease for his first goal of the season.
Detroit enjoyed three chances with the man advantage in the opening frame but couldn't solve Kiprusoff, who had his hands full with his team outshot 15-6. The Flames netminder also had to contend with the Red Wings penchant for giving opposing goalies the worst view in the rink.
Holmstrom in familiar territory
Tomas Holmstrom spent most of the power play camped out in his usual spot in front of the net, and the Flames' Mark Giordano let him know what he thought about that before a faceoff.
The two exchanged words and shoves before being issued a warning by the referee to cut it out. The two continued exchanging unpleasantries, but it was Holmstrom who picked up the penalty, the only one taken by Detroit until nearly midway through the third.
Calgary, however, cut ruts to the penalty box on Friday and with forward Fredrik Sjostrom sitting down after a holding call at 12:52, the Red Wings appeared to knot things up.
The shot from the point from Brad Stuart that got by Kiprusoff was waved off because of Daniel Cleary's position in the blue paint in front of Kiprusoff.
It wasn't the only time in the game that Cleary was denied by the officials. With 11.6 seconds to go in the second period, Kiprusoff survived another scrum in front of his net, thanks, in part, to a quick whistle. The puck was jarred loose from under his glove in the Flames' crease and Cleary once again scored, only to have the play blown dead. Calgary escaped the middle frame with the 2-0 lead.
"I really thought the first one should have been a goal," Cleary said. "I didn't do anything wrong."
Detroit coach Mike Babcock agreed with Cleary.
"I was disappointed. The first one, Cleary was in the crease, there's no contact made, the referee said [Kiprusoff] couldn't make the save. That's not how I saw it, but I have the replay," Babcock said. "The second one it's a goal for sure. We can't so anything about that now , we just got to worry about how we're playing and keep playing as hard as we possibly can."
Despite the discrepancy in shots and power-play chances, the Flames scored with 1:29 to go in the second period as Detroit defenceman Jonathan Ericsson and Datsyuk couldn't handle the puck in their own slot after breaking up a rush by Nigel Dawes and David Moss.
Dawes poked the puck through the Red Wings defence and the legs of Osgood for the 2-0 lead.
Kiprusoff continued to battle through a maze of red sweaters trying to get a glimpse of the puck in the second period, where his team was out shot 17-5.
Detroit's Brian Rafalski sent a hard shot from the blue line with Cleary once again parked in front of the Calgary crease, but the Finnish net minder was in perfect position to make the stop.
Jokinen stuns Osgood
Perhaps encouraged by their goaltender's spectacular play, the Flames extended their lead to 3-0 when Jokinen struck 25 seconds into the third. The Flames centre benefited from the some hustle shown by teammate Daymond Langkow, who picked a Detroit clearing attempt out of the air.
After settling the puck, Langkow found Jokinen, who stunned Osgood with a blazing wrist shot from the right face-off circle, which beat the goalie over the shoulder on the short side.
Kiprusoff made another fabulous stop with 10:35 to go, when Bertuzzi executed a spinning backhand across the slot to Holmstrom, who deflected the puck toward the net but was denied.
With 5:30 to go, Kiprusoff made one last huge save, this one by sticking out a pad to stop a sizzling shot by Brett Lebda as the Flames took the win.