CALGARY, Alberta (AP) _ Pavel Datsyuk and Manny Legace have exceeded most people's expectations this season.
Thursday night in Calgary, they were at it again, combining forces to knock off the Flames.
Datsyuk set up both Detroit goals, including Steve Thomas' winner late in the second period. Legace made 33 saves in the Red Wings' 2-1 victory over the Flames.
``Pav's one of those special players,'' said Legace. ``Losing Sergei (Fedorov), he has filled that hole right away.
``We knew he had it in him, we just didn't realize that with him getting the extra ice time and taking the spot Sergei had, that he would do as well as he has. He's taken that role and just ran with it.''
Thomas put the Red Wings up 2-0 with the only goal of the middle period, during which Detroit was outshot 14-5.
Datsyuk started the play by neatly stripping the puck from Flames rookie Matthew Lombardi as he skated out of his end. He then sent a backhand pass to the front of the net. Brett Hull slid the puck over to Thomas, who one-timed it past goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.
``When (Datsyuk) is back-checking, he's kind of stealth,'' said Hull. ``He just picked his pocket from behind, I don't even think he knew he was there.''
Ray Whitney scored the other goal for Detroit, which concluded a three-game Western Canada road trip with a 1-1-1 record. The Wings were missing defenseman Chris Chelios, hurt Tuesday in Vancouver.
Chuck Kobasew scored the lone goal for Calgary, which lost for the fourth time in five games to drop into seventh in the Western Conference. They Flames are tied at 70 points with the Los Angeles Kings, with St. Louis two points back in ninth.
The Flames came on strong in the third period, when Kobasew's hard slap shot at 12:09 made it 2-1. But they could not get the tying goal.
``We have to bear down and play our game like we did in the third period for the full 60 minutes,'' said Lombardi. ``We have to come out stronger knowing that every game is a playoff game for us.''
With Dominik Hasek (groin) gone for the season and Curtis Joseph (ankle) also out, Legace continues to shoulder the load in net. Legace has started seven of the last eight games, winning five. On the season, he's 15-7-4.
``Manny's stood in there when we had a little adversity and has been able to keep us in hockey games, and for the most part win some hockey games for us,'' Thomas said. ``Kudos to him, he's really done a good job.''
With the Flames storming the Red Wings' end most of the third period, Legace had a close-up look at one of the NHL's most surprising teams. He was impressed.
``They came out solid in the third and ran us around, a credit to their side,'' said Legace. ``They didn't give up down two goals and they've been doing that for the last three months.''
Detroit opened the scoring when Denis Gauthier and Stephane Yelle couldn't connect on a pass in the Flames' end. Datsyuk got the loose puck near the blue line, fed a pass in front to Henrik Zetterberg, who in turn set up Whitney at the side of the net.
Kiprusoff made 20 saves in dropping to 15-6-2. He's given up two or fewer goals in 21 of his 23 starts.
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