Calgary, Alberta — You suspected the Red Wings might be searching for offense Saturday, but this was amazing.
With no Robby Fabbri (knee) and Tyler Bertuzzi (COVID regulations) in the lineup, the Red Wings struggled to produce any sort of offense in a 3-0 loss to Calgary.
Calgary outshot the Wings 43-19. The Wings were limited to five shots after two periods, which was a Flames franchise record. This was a case where the shots total were an accurate assessment of how this game evolved.
“You (the Wings) haven’t generated anything in the first and second and they generated everything,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “We defended the whole time. We had no shots at all. It wasn’t like we were passing up shots, we weren’t in their end (of the ice). The shots (31-5) were indicative of the game over the first two periods.”
Blashill felt the Wings had “no jump at all” through the early going.
“No jump, no legs it looked like at all,” Blashill said. “We had guys who probably didn’t battle hard enough at times, so we kind of defended and played in our end and they got chances and shots and we couldn’t get any jump at all.”
Until the third period, that is. The Wings pressed Calgary early and goaltender Jacob Markstrom had to make several timely saves after seeing absolutely no credible chances through 40 minutes. Markstrom’s shutout was his ninth of the season.
But Toffoli’s goal stemmed the momentum.
“We had more jump in the third until we took the penalty and they scored,” Blashill said.
The Flames (36-15-7) are playing some of the best hockey in the NHL and blitzed the Wings, but the opening 40 minutes weren’t good enough.
“It’s a lot of the same things,” forward Sam Gagner said. “They’re a team that volume shoots and hunt pucks down and we just have to find a way to tilt the ice and play in their end a little more. That’s the main thing for us, spending less time in our end and against a team like that, make them defend. We did a bit in the third and created some momentum.”
Goaltender Thomas Greiss did his job, with one of his better starts after a difficult recent stretch. Greiss made 40 saves and kept the Wings, astonishingly, down only one goal after the first 40 minutes.
“Greiss played real well, kept us in the hockey game,” Blashill said. “He made some big saves. It hasn’t gone great, we all know that, but he’s got a way to forget that and has a good short memory.”
Elias Lindholm and Toffoli scored Calgary power-play goals, and Blake Coleman added some insurance late in the third period.
Lindholm’s power-play goal, his 30th goal, at 9 minutes, 22 seconds of the first period stood up. Lindholm sped down the ice, skated toward the slot, and ripped a shot past Greiss.
Toffoli made it 2-0 in the third period, tapping in Matthew Tkachuk’s pass at the post.
With no Bertuzzi and Fabbri the Wings (24-28-7) couldn’t muster any offense to counter, while dropping their seventh game in the last 10 (2-7-1).
“Guys have to play better, there are no other ways to put it,” Blashill said. “There are opportunities there for more ice time.”
The Wings pressed Calgary early in the third period. But Toffoli’s goal stemmed the momentum.
The Wings had two power plays, but couldn’t match Calgary’s success with the man advantage as the penalty-kill issues continue to plague the Wings.
“I’m sure confidence has a little bit to do with that,” Gagner said. “We have to find a way to rectify that. They score on two different plays tonight. We have to stop the bleeding there and buckle down because it’s an important part of things of you’re going to be a successful team.”
Wings defenseman Marc Staal played in his 1,000th NHL game.