CALGARY, AB – Detroit Red Wings winger Tyler Bertuzzi is healthy again and looks to be in vintage form.
Bertuzzi had a goal and two assists, Dominik Kubalik scored twice and the Detroit Red Wings extended their winning streak to a season-best five games with a 5-2 win over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.
“You could see frustration in his game,” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said of Bertuzzi, who has missed 31 games due to injury this season. “He misses half of camp, plays a game and a half (then) breaks his hand (and is) out six weeks. Comes back for a few weeks and breaks his hand again. Battles a lower-body (injury).
“He just hasn’t been able to get any rhythm in his game.”
That is until Thursday. Coming off a career-best 30 goals and 62 points last season, Bertuzzi was the difference maker against Calgary.
Robby Fabbri and Pius Suter also scored for Detroit (26-20-8), which closed within two points of Washington in the race for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Red Wings hold three games in hand. Dylan Larkin had three assists, extending his point streak to six games (six goals, six assists). Magnus Hellberg made 33 saves.
Elias Lindholm and Dillon Dube scored for Calgary (25-19-11). The loss knocked the Flames out of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference, which now belongs to the Minnesota Wild.
Calgary's Dan Vladar stopped 19 of 24 shots. On the heels of a 13-game points streak (10-0-3), Vladar has lost back-to-back games in regulation, both against Detroit.
“Certainly didn’t give us an opportunity to win, did it?” said Flames coach Darryl Sutter, when asked about his team’s goaltending.
Tied 2-2 in the second period, Kubalik scored his second at 15:21 after some hard work behind the goal from Bertuzzi. Battling Nazem Kadri for a loose puck, Bertuzzi sent the puck into the slot as he was getting clipped in the face by Kadri’s stick. While Bertuzzi was down and grabbing his face behind the net, Larkin zipped a cross-ice pass to Kubalik, who fired it past Vladar.
“(Bertuzzi) throws his body in front of the line all the time,” said Hellberg. “He’s such a great guy. He’s blocking shots. He’s playing tough. Making nice plays. Feels like he can do everything.”
Bertuzzi made it 4-2 just over three minutes later on the man advantage when he steered in Fabbri’s centering pass for his third of the season. Bertuzzi’s three-point game was a season best for the right winger who has been limited to 23 games due to injuries.
“The break was the best for him. He got healthy,” Lalonde said. “Now he’s winning those second battles. That’s a good sign for us.”
Calgary opened the scoring on Lindholm’s short-handed goal at 15:22 of the first period that was set up by Mikael Backlund.
The Flames only lead of the night was short-lived with Detroit tying it at 18:59. Bertuzzi got the puck out to Kubalik in the slot and his shot eluded Vladar after it partially deflected off the glove of Flames defenseman Michael Stone.
Stone also factored into Detroit going ahead 2-1 as his cross-checking penalty at 2:14 of the second put the Red Wings on the power play. Fabbri picked the top corner after a setup from Larkin 13 seconds later.
The Flames evened the game at 9:03 of the middle frame when Dube got loose down the right wing and scored his 16th goal of the season and fifth in the past three games.
Calgary welcomed back defenseman Rasmus Andersson to the lineup. The team’s leader in average ice time (24:40) missed three games after he was struck by a car while riding a scooter a week ago, when the team was visiting Detroit.
Detroit’s power play was sizzling Thursday. A perfect 3 for 3 over the previous two games, the Red Wings went 2 for 4 on the man advantage.
Red Wings: At Seattle on Saturday in the fourth game of a five-game trip.
Flames: Host New York Rangers on Saturday in the second game of a three-game homestand.