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.
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.
The Wings failed on three power plays, while killing two Calgary power plays.
Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 27 shots, while looking for his first win of the young season (0-1-1).
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.
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.
The Wings have talked all homestand about the need to get the season going on a winning note, and not climbing out of a hole in the standings.
“The first 10, 15, or 20 games and get out in front of those and just play good hockey and try to have a winning record,” forward Tyler Bertuzzi said early in the week. “Build from there. The chemistry, it’s there, and it’s going to continue to be there.
“If we can just keep playing the way we are doing, playing a little bit smarter and just doing it the right way, we’re going to get some more wins.”
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).
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