Reuters - Tue, 16 Mar 06:14:00 2010
Tomas Holmstrom scored a late winner as the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Calgary Flames 2-1 to remain ahead of their rivals in the race for the final NHL Western Conference play-off berth.
Starting the day holding on to eighth place in the conference, the Red Wings stretched their advantage over the Flames to three points with late goals in the final two periods to overturn an early deficit.
"It was a big win for our team," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "Guys dug in today. It's not the play-offs but it's a big game for both teams.
"We'll get a day off tomorrow and then we're really going to work for two days to get ready for a big push. That's what this is all about."
Calgary took the lead less than two minutes into the first period on Craig Conroy's strike before Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk tied the game with his fifth goal in six games, slamming home a wrist shot with 50 seconds remaining in the second.
The game was heading for overtime until Holmstrom redirected team mate Johan Franzen's shot past Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff with 1:19 remaining.
The Flames (34-26-9) have lost two in a row after riding a four-game winning streak. They had beaten Detroit 4-2 last Tuesday.
"We've got to find ways to win games," said Calgary coach Brent Sutter. "That's two games in a row now we've found ways to lose. Tonight we had a chance and never made the most of the opportunity."
Kiprusoff had 26 saves while Jimmy Howard finished with 22 saves for Detroit (34-23-12), who are trying to avoid missing the play-offs for the first time since the 1989-90 season.