DETROIT – Jimmy Howard fell on the sword Saturday, personally taking the blame for the Red Wings’ lackluster loss at Columbus. But Tuesday, there wasn’t much more that the veteran goaltender could have done to help the cause for the Wings, who lost, 4-1, to the struggling Calgary Flames at Joe Louis Arena.
“Howie’s been solid for us every game. He gives us a chance to win every night and that’s all you can ask,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “It’s tough for him when we spot them goals, goals that he can’t do anything about, really. He’s doing everything and more for us, to give us a chance.”
Aside from maybe the Flames’ first goal, Howard didn’t stand much of a chance Tuesday, especially on Calgary’s last three scores.
“I don’t think any of the games have been on him whatsoever,” added Kronwall. “He’s been giving us a chance to win each and every night. We have to find a way to play a lot better.”
After Jarome Iginla put the visitors up 1-0, a pair of Red Wings’ defensemen ended up in the penalty box just 14-seconds apart. And the Flames wasted little time in capitalizing on the 5-on-3 opportunity when Curtis Glencross scored the first of his team’s three power-play goals.
“He did his part,” said captain Henrik Zetterberg, of Howard’s role Tuesday night. “Of course, the PK was tough today, I don’t know, they scored two or three on their power play, so the 5-on-3 one they’re two more guys than we are, so they made a good play. Not much Howie can do with that one.”
With the Wings trailing 2-1 in the second, Howard came up big when he stoned Iginla on a penalty shot. The play certainly seemed to breathe some life into the Wings, who out-shot the Flames in each period and had a 26-23 advantage in the final shot totals.
“I think it did give us some momentum,” Zetterberg said. “We came out with some push after that, but we couldn’t get the goal. If we had gotten one more goal there I think it would have been a different situation.”
Howard made another splendid save late in the period when he stopped Roman Cervenka from close-range in the waning seconds. However, the Flames managed to score off of the ensuing face-off when Dennis Wideman gave Calgary a two-goal lead with 23-seconds left in the period.
Wideman’s goal was set-up when Matt Stajan cleaning beat Pavel Datsyuk in the right face-off circle. The puck went back to Wideman on the point when he side-stepped a defender and sent a wrist shot through traffic in front of Howard’s crease.
“We lost that (Stajan) face-off, you know, on a seeing-eye puck that (Todd Bertuzzi) missed the lane and it went right through,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Obviously, Howie didn’t see it and it went right under his arm or something like that. … That was a big blow to us.”
For the fourth time this season, the Wings didn’t give Howard, who made 19 saves on 23 shots, much in the way of offensive support, being held to one or fewer goals.
“Catch-up hockey is losing hockey,” Babcock said. “You can’t start from behind. You have to start from ahead; that’s what you want to do and get playing right from the get-go. We have to continue to improve, that’s all there is to it.”
THREE STARS: 3, Mike Cammalleri, CGY (2 assists); 2, Johan Franzen, DET (1 goal); 1, Jarome Iginla, CGY (1 goal).
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose
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